John Lewis

Professor John Lewis died yesterday after waging a heroic battle against cancer. I already miss his encouragement, partnership and friendship. Seven years hardly seems like enough time to learn from him, trade with him and laugh and celebrate with him and his equally amazing wife, Casey. Leonard Peikoff, who posted the kindest statement about Dr. Lewis on Facebook, rightly recognized today that John Lewis embodied Ayn Rand’s “benevolent universe” premise, which I know to be true firsthand. He was brave, bold and unconquerable. He was also insightful, disciplined and accessible, showing everyone how to live sumptuously, savoring every moment. He had been a businessman before he became a college professor, which I think may be why he did not act as though he lived in an ivory tower. When I attended my first Objectivist conference in New York City during the 1980s, I encountered students and faculty who were uptight and unfriendly. Not welcoming John Lewis, who waved you over, looked you in the eye, smiled and said ‘good morning’ and meant it. He was deep and serious and he knew that Objectivism is a philosophy for living on earth. So, he called on my birthday and congratulated my achievements and we shared our accomplishments with enthusiasm. I first requested an interview with him about Alexander the Great in 2004 for a series of articles for a movie Web site and I wasn’t at all sure he’d say yes. But he did. I’ll try to find those pieces and post them. In the meantime, here is my interview with him from last year, posted before the 10th year since the 9/11 Islamist attack on America. I am still mourning and sifting through my thoughts about the loss. But I know cheerful John Lewis, whose outstanding scholarship includes stern, passionate warnings and lessons, fought tenaciously for the future and lived a happy life.

Support this site; Share