Lewis M. LevineOctober 1, 1929 ~ December 22, 2017 (age 88)
LEWIS MILTON LEVINE
OCTOBER 1, 1929 – DECEMBER 22, 2017
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Star of coach Stony Phillips’ Harlingen Cardinals’ illustrious winning streak teams in the late 1940s, LEWIS MILTON LEVINE excelled in track, was a homerun hitter for the baseball team, and captained both the football and basketball teams. He played on the South Team at the Annual North-South Basketball Schoolboy Classic in El Paso. Though his South Coach, U of Kentucky’s basketball coach Adolph Rupp, tried to recruit him to play for his college team, Lewis’ passion was football. He was all-district, all-Valley, all-South Texas in both football and basketball and was recruited by numerous colleges. His goal was Blair Cherry’s Longhorns at UT Austin and he walked onto the freshman team, subsequently lettering as starting fullback and halfback and a member of its Orange and Cotton Bowl teams. He was named national outstanding athlete by his fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi and was a member of the T Assoc. and Texas Cowboys. Several pro teams, including the Steelers’, recruited him but a knee injury in his final year sent him out of the Marine Reserves and back to Harlingen to work with his father Ben in his investment company and at The Man’s Shop, forming and sponsoring the winning Harlingen City Basketball League. Lewis expanded the number of family-owned stores to Brownsville, Edinburgh, and
South Padre Island. With his wife and Donna and Neal Bonner, he was a co-owner of Robby & Lynn and its Boutique.
Born in Mercedes, Texas, Lewis moved with parents Ben and Fannie to Harlingen at the age of 5. He brought his college sweetheart Dena Fai Mayers Levine to his hometown following their 1951 wedding and they were married 65 years. The Harlingen City Councilman was also a private pilot and served on the city’s Airport Board, influential in bringing Southwest to town. He met with grocery store mogul H.E. Butt in Corpus Christi and convinced him to fund the city’s first municipal swimming pools. Lewis raised four swimmers, attending all of their meets. A Boy Scout Silver Beaver recipient, he served as President of the Rio Grande Valley Boy Scouts. An avid golfer who shot his age in his 70s and received a certificate for his Hole-in-One, Lewis coached golf at Coakley Middle School. He loved to ski in Colorado with his lifelong best friend Rollie Koppel.
Lewis shared a love of fishing with his father and spent a lot of time on the family’s pier at South Padre. He donated Harlingen’s first hospital building to The Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum. Lewis was President of numerous organizations, including Harlingen Jaycees, the Harlingen Art Forum, the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce, and Temple Beth Israel, which his parents had co-founded and where he helped build the Sunday School. In 2013, the congregation honored Lewis and Dena for their lifetime of temple leadership. Harlingen’s 100th birthday Walk of Fame also honored Lewis and his father, Ben. As members of the Emanon Dance Club, Lewis loved to dance with Dena. He was inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1998. On his 80th birthday, Lewis received a key to the city from Mayor Chris Boswell and, as an accomplished artist with his work displayed in homes and institutions across the state, was also honored by the Art Forum. He was a member of Rotary, Kiwanis, and the Algodon Club. Lewis and Dena moved to Los Angeles four years ago to be closer to their children and grandchildren. A loving son and father, Lewis’ proudest accomplishment was the family he shared with the love of his life, Dena, who preceded him in death in 2016. He is survived by his children Sheryl “Suggie” Guterman (Barry), Leslie Levine (Marty Cohen), Alan Levine (Renee’), Ron Levine (Serena), his grandchildren Marisa and Travis Guterman, Stephanie and Jessica Levine, Eden and Bennet Levine, and Nick, Alex, Chris and Katharine Cohen, his brother Leonard Levine, and nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be given in Lewis Levine’s memory to Temple Beth Israel (P. O. Box 3398, Harlingen Texas 78551, http://harlingentemple.com/donations), the Alzheimer's Association or The Rio Grande Valley Boy Scout Council.
Graveside Funeral Service Wednesday December 27 at 11 a.m. at Restlawn Memorial Park, 14166 U.S. 83 Business, La Feria, followed by a Memorial Service at Temple Beth Israel, 1702 E Jackson Ave, Harlingen.
You are invited to sign the guestbook or share a memory at www.buckashcraft.com.
Arrangements are with Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home.