Former 'Post' circulation manager, dies at 78

Ray Lewis is described by a former colleague as a "sunshine Zionist."

ray lewis 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
ray lewis 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Ray Lewis, who died on Thursday in Jerusalem at age 78, was what his former Jerusalem Post colleague and friend, the late Philip Gillon, described as a "sunshine Zionist." His decision to come here was not motivated by hardship or staunch religious or political convictions. It was a proactive choice - to leave behind a comfortable and privileged life and build a home in the vibrant and expectant young country that Israel was becoming in the early 1960s. He came to Israel and fell in love with the country and its people through sport. Ray was born in London in June 1929, the son of an industrialist and the third of four children. He went to University College School (UCS) in Hampstead during World War II and later earned an engineering degree at the University of Nottingham. In the '50s and '60s he worked in various capacities in the textiles industry, both in the UK and in Israel. He was managing director of a large textiles firm in the UK in the late '60s and early '70s. When the Israeli textiles industry disintegrated in the '80s, Ray applied his administrative skills to a new job as circulation manager of The Jerusalem Post, a position he held until reaching retirement age in 1994. Professional and hard-working in a highly demanding position, he was unfailingly kind and soft-spoken and is remembered with great esteem and affection by those who worked with him, as well as by a very wide circle of relatives and friends. Ray was once a fine tennis player, and as a schoolboy in the '40s he competed in a tournament for his age group at Wimbledon. His school put a heavy emphasis on sport and many of his contemporaries developed into athletes of world renown. Roger Bannister, a classmate who was later to run the first sub-four-minute mile, is one example. John Barrett, a former British Davis Cup player and captain, and still the doyen of the BBC's tennis commentating team, was his doubles partner for many years. Geoff Brown, who was to become chairman of Britain's Lawn Tennis Association, was a very close friend. Ray made his initial visit to Israel in 1957 as a member of the British Maccabi Games tennis team and married Drora, a young Israeli Embassy staffer in London, soon afterward. Israel became his home in 1962. After retiring, Ray became heavily involved in the running of the Jerusalem lawn bowls club. Even though he was diagnosed with cancer some two years ago, he remained active in both sports until he was incapacitated by the disease weeks before his death on December 27. He is survived by his wife, three children and four grandchildren.