Octavia Harris Lewis

Hollywood Baptist Church Cemetery

         OCTAVIA HARRIS LEWIS was born in Powhatan County, VA, on April 9, 1922, to the late James E. and Octavia M. Woods Harris.

        Octavia joined the Hollywood Baptist Church at an early age under the pastorate of Rev. Joshua Fisher. During her church life at Hollywood she served on the usher board and was president for several years. She was superintendent of the Sunday School and sang in the church choir. Octavia was a member of the White Rose Missionary Circle and was ordained a deacon in April 1999, where she served faithfully until illness forced her into inactive status. She remained faithful in her stewardship to the church and will be remembered for her public speaking, representing her church and the James River Baptist Association at various events.

        Octavia completed her education in the public schools of Powhatan County, graduating as valedictorian of her high school class in 1939. She attended St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville, VA, graduating with a BS Degree in Elementary Education. She began her professional career as a teacher in the Antioch area of Powhatan County and retired after forty-two years of service to the county from the Powhatan Elementary School in 1982.

        Octavia was married to Edward Lee Lewis on November 21, 1952, in Powhatan County. Edward predeceased her in 2000 after serving as the Powhatan County VPI Extension Agent for many years. To this union two daughters were born, Cheryl and Denise.

        Mrs. Lewis enjoyed a marvelous personal and professional life. She was energetic, outgoing, always willing to serve whenever and wherever her talents were needed. She was a longtime member of the NAACP and was also a member of the Four-H Club and the Aid's Society of Powhatan. She served as the Director of the Head Start Program that was under the direction of the Powhatan Community Action Agency in partnership with the Powhatan County School Board. Mrs. Lewis was appointed to the Powhatan County School Board and served for many years, during which time she was chairman for approximately eight years.

        Mrs. Lewis held membership in the James River Baptist Association. During her membership she served in several capacities more notably as president of the women's auxiliary for twenty-five years. She was a Past Worthy Matron, Order of Eastern Star, White Orchid Chapter No. 182. She held membership on the board of directors of the Powhatan, Goochland Community Action Agency and also served on the Trustee Board of the Children's Home of Virginia Baptists, Inc.

        During Mrs. Lewis' professional career she was a member of the Powhatan Techers Association; was selected as a Powhatan Teacher of the Year and was also selected as a model teacher in Powhatan under the supervision of the University of Virginia.

        Octavia Harris Lewis was an enduring personality. She lived life with a zeal, energy and enthusiasm that endeared her to those whom she met along her journey. She was more than a model mother, teacher, counselor, confidante' and friend to her two loving, devoted daughters, Mrs. cheryl Lewis Burke, Principal of Chimborazo Elementary School and Ms. Denise Renae Lewis, Principal of Chandler Middle School, both in Richmond, VA. Octavia epitomized womanhood at its finest. Her legacy will live on through her beloved daughters.

        She leaves to cherish her memory Cheryl and Denise, two grandsons, Emmett Lewis Burke and Edmund Glasgow Burke, a devoted son-in-law, Emmett Burke (Spike) all of Richmond; two sisters, Mrs. Margaret Manning and Mrs. Gladys Morris; two brothers, William Harris and Richard Harris (Alberta); a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends, and devoted caregivers Crystal Fields who remained with her for the last six years, Martha Banks and Barbara Vesta.

"A Season"

When people come into your life for a season,
It is because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it! It is real! But only for a Season.
In the same way that leaves must fall from the trees,
Or the moon becomes full then disapears,
Your seasonal relationships will end at the divinely appointed time.
When that time comes, there is nothing you can blame.
You cannot fix it. You cannot explain it.
The harder you clutch, the worst it will feel.
When the end of a season comes in a loving relationship,
The only thing you can do is let go.

reprinted by permission
@ 2009 Powhatan County Historical Society. All rights reserved