At age 68, Donnie Lewis has passed away. His sudden and unexpected passing has shocked his family, friends, and community.
Lewis was a fixture in the Ponoka community. Throughout his life, he was highly active in the town and county as a citizen and a volunteer.
Lewis was born in Ponoka, on Aug. 20, 1954. He, his twin brother (Ronnie), older sister (Lynn), and parents (Ivan and Elva) lived on a farm north of Ponoka on Bobtail Road.
As a child, Lewis “was always building something, even when he was pretty small,” said Blaine Lewis, Donnie’s cousin. “[Donnie] never became discouraged” when working mechanically, even “when things didn’t turn out.” Lewis loved working with his hands and was happiest when building, fixing, and tinkering.
Before he started his own business, Lewis began his career as a mechanic at John Deere. When he started at the John Deere building in 1972 (present-day Longhorn Saloon), Lewis apprenticed under Bruce Erickson while earning his ticket.
“He was a natural mechanic,” Erickson said.
In 1983 he became service manager for John Deere until 1985 when he created his own business. Don Lewis Automotive and Agricultural Repair (located 10 minutes north of town), served Ponoka and its county for over 25 years until he retired in 2015.
Lewis was eager to give back to the community and volunteered often.
Lewis followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the Ponoka Stampede Association (PSA) in 1983. On the PSA board, he organized the talent show and beer gardens until 2001.
During his tenure in this position, Lewis was named the 1998 “Man of the Year” by the PSA. More recently, Lewis was a strong supporter and volunteer within the Ponoka Broncs football program. He attended all home games and could be found in the concession, flipping burgers for hungry athletes.
Lewis married his highschool sweetheart, Althea Rowland, in 1976. They had three sons, Nathan, Adam, and Todd, and lived on an acreage. Lewis’s business was also located on this property, which allowed him more time to be around home and with his family.
Donnie Lewis was — and is — a memorable character in Ponoka. Even after the briefest of interactions, Lewis left an impression on all that he met.
He had a “great sense of humour” and was “kind-hearted (even though he pretended not to be),” said cousin Blaine.
While our community has lost a great person, the Lewis family hopes that we take time to reflect on Lewis’s best characteristics: his humour, generosity and work ethic “are a model that all should aspire to.”
– Submitted by Todd Lewis