Emeritus Trustee David S. Lewis Jr. died of natural causes at Bishop Gadsden Retirement Community in Charleston, S.C., on Monday, Dec. 15, 2003. He was 86.
Lewis served as a trustee from 1971 until 1984, when he was elected emeritus.
For three decades, Lewis was a major force in the aerospace and defense industry. His management skills were notable for their breadth, ranging over military and commercial aviation, space exploration, land combat systems, submarines and surface ships.
Lewis’ career began in 1939 when, as a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology’s aeronautical engineering program, he joined Glenn L. Martin Co. in Baltimore. During World War II, he worked in performance and flight-testing on many new aircraft designs, including the B-26 Marauder.
In 1946, Lewis joined McDonnell Aircraft Corp. in St. Louis as chief of aerodynamics. He was active in the development of McDonnell’s space division, leading to the corporation’s winning effort to develop and build the pioneering Mercury and Gemini spacecraft for NASA.
After holding various executive posts with McDonnell Douglas Corp., including president and chief operating officer, Lewis became chairman and chief executive office of General Dynamics from in 1971 until his retirement in 1985. During his tenure, General Dynamics’ revenues and earnings quadrupled.
Lewis received numerous national and international awards for his contributions to the field of aeronautics, including the Robert J. Collier Trophy in 1975, the Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Award in 1981, the Daniel Guggenheim Medal in 1982, and the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy in 1984.
Lewis was inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 2000. He was named a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and of the National Academy of Engineering.
Lewis is survived by his wife of 62 years, Dorothy; daughter, Susan Winslow; sons, David III, Robert and Andrew; brother, Jack; 12 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.