David Dean Lewis came from humble Ozarks beginnings. He did not crave the spotlight nor did he seek recognition. In fact, he had to be convinced to share part of his life story, which shows his humility and selflessness. David was a true Ozark Mountain Son.
He was born in 1933 in Rockaway Beach, Taney County, Missouri, and died in the Lewis family home in 2009, just up the road from Lake Taneycomo.
David in many ways was a simple man and always was closely connected to his family farm. He was not the CEO of a large corporation, nor did he inherit large wealth. He made his money from working at Sears in Springfield, Missouri, for nearly 40 years; from farming and raising cattle on the family homestead; and from investing and saving his money.
Through his frugal living, upon his death, David was able to leave over one million dollars to each of three Southwest Missouri colleges to be used to fund scholarships to help Taney County students achieve their education. Mr. Lewis chose not to set up his own Foundation, and instead set up scholarship endowments at the three colleges and universities, College of the Ozarks, Drury University, and Ozarks Technical Community College. He asked the Board of Directors of the Roy W. Slusher Foundation to oversee the endowments, since both serve the same geographic area.
David believed, “if we haven’t helped somebody as we go along, we haven’t accomplished any mission”. The gift David Lewis leaves behind will enhance the lives of generations of future students.
David Lewis also chose to share his family’s 362-acre farmstead with fellow Missourians by donating the land to the Missouri Department of Conservation. The land, now known as The Lewis Family — Dean, Anna Mae and David D. Lewis Memorial Conservation Area, is open to the public to enjoy hiking, hunting, fishing and more.
The family homestead, built by David’s parents, still stands on the Conservation Area land.