MARTINSBURG, Wv.— The Martinsburg community is mourning the loss of City Councilman Roger Lewis after he died at
Lewis succumbed to complications from pneumonia. He was 77 years old.
Lewis was born in Martinsburg and while he eventually moved away, he returned to his hometown decades later to give back to the city he loved.
"He was very passionate,”Martinsburg Councilman Kevin Knowles said. “I don't know if there's anyone that can show as much passion as he has shown in the past."
Lewis served the 4th ward since 1990 with a dedication his colleagues said was hard to miss. Even though he had been feeling sick for the past few months, his death still shocked many.
"I knew his health had started deteriorating, but it was definitely a shock that, wow, he passed away,” said Martinsburg Councilman Jason Baker.
"The loss of Roger for the city and myself is huge,” said Knowles. “They're losing a huge advocate for the downtown corridor and his ward."
Lewis was a driving force in the effort to revitalize and develop downtown Martinsburg, the area he represented.
As part of his initiatives to improve downtown Lewis purchased several buildings, allowing businesses to move in. Council members said he was well-known to the business community downtown and the people he represented. Community members said they remember his generous spirit and happy demeanor.
"His nickname was ‘Smiley,’ he was the kind of guy that you could go up to and have a conversation with and he was very open,” Knowles said.
While Lewis may be gone, those who worked with him say they will strive to honor his memory with the passion and dedication he showed first-hand.
“I think that would be the biggest honor for Councilman Lewis would be to work hard to bring our downtown back to its promise where it was at one point in time,” Baker said.
Council members say they will choose someone to temporarily fill Lewis’ vacant seat until his term ends in 2016.
Funeral services are still being finalized.