Leroy ‘Bud’ Lewis died Friday, February 10th in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the age of 83. He is survived by his wife, Betty Engelbrecht; son, Doug Lewis; daughters, Pamela Ahl and Deborah Lyon; step-daughter, Cayce Vickers; and stepsons, Andrew and Bryce Engelbrecht.
Bud was born in Cordell, Georgia in 1928. He left Georgia to join the Navy where he spent 22 years serving as a chief on a medical ship and eventually establishing himself as a medical photographer. His career as a photographer took him to Vietnam, where he served in theater and at surgical wards photographing battle injuries. He eventually went to Bethesda Medical Hospital and upon retiring from the Navy; he then worked in San Diego, Salt Lake City, and Tulsa doing in-situ cardiac surgery photography. His love for photography went well beyond medical work, and he developed a rich portfolio of landscape, cityscape, and event photography during his years as a professional photographer. He had the opportunity throughout his career to photograph US presidents, foreign dignitaries, entertainers, and many sports personalities.
Bud had a colorful athletic career. In his youth, he was a promising baseball pitcher. He pitched for the Navy team and for a short stint in the US minor leagues before seriously injuring his shoulder. He also played against Bob Feller of the King and His Court - an exhibition 3 man softball team that toured in the 1950s and 60s. As an adult in his late thirties, Bud learned to golf and very soon became a scratch golfer. His golf accolades included a number of club and amateur championships in both California and Utah, and he was very active in the San Diego Junior Golf circles as a mentor and volunteer. He chaperoned Craig Stadler in youth events, gave Scott Simpson his first golf lesson, and played with the likes of Lee Trevino and Chi Chi Rodriguez in the Andy Williams charity golf tournament.
Those close to Bud also knew him as a creative cook, capable of preparing almost any meal but with a particular love for making salsa, chili, and beef jerky – all of which he would enter in cook-offs and competitions with great success. He had a flair for the spicy, so his concoctions were not for the faint of heart. Nor were his jokes – Bud was a bold prankster and constant joker, always ready to make you laugh.
What we may remember most about Bud was his willingness to stand up for what he believed and to speak his mind. Bud never backed down from a confrontation when he felt that he or his loved ones were being mistreated. He was a man of his word, and he did not mince words. And he was the first person to help a stranger or a neighbor in need and to motivate others to do the same.