Max Eugene Lewis was born June 3, 1935 in Lyman, Nebraska to Violet Elizabeth Shaner and Henry “Hank” Hugh Lewis. He had two sisters, Reva Belle (3 years older) and Eldeen (14 months younger). From Lyman the family moved to Lusk Wyoming and then Riverton, Wyoming. Here Hank purchased a farm on the Arapahoe reservation. Max was about 6 years old, probably about 1941 when they started the farm. Max went to school at Arapahoe Elementary. In third grade, at the ripe age of 8 years old, Max remembers that he missed a day because he had to drive the tractor. From then on he was expected to drive the tractor the rest of the time—schooling was always secondary to the farm needs. Kids grow up fast on a farm, and they learn how to be excellent workers.
Max played basketball in junior high and by his senior year he lettered in basketball. He was also very active in Future Farmers of America (FFA), and was part of the junior varsity team for track. He always wanted to play baseball, but it was during the spring and Max was needed for planting. Max and Reva got quite a reputation for boxing and the neighborhood kids would regularly hold boxing matches. Max said he could beat all comers as a result of his pummeling at the hands of Reva! Life on the farm wasn’t all toil. During the winter there were games and dances in the community. The whole family would go to town and the kids would end up asleep on the chairs on the edge of the gym floor as Vi would dance her heart out and Hank would enjoy drinking with the men. Max remembered he spent the time buying and consuming hot dogs and sloppy joes. Max graduated from Riverton High School in 1954. Max first met Sharon Williams at a party in 6th grade but they were in high school when they got married in St. Mary’s church in Riverton on August 8, 1954. They had 4 children: Larry Eugene Lewis, Tim Michael Lewis, Brad David Lewis, and Lori Frances Lewis.
Max and Sharon decided that they had enough of farm life and decided to move to Lander, Wyoming where Max was hired on working for Morning Star Dairy. For years he ran the milk routes and went to bed early because he had to get up at 4:00 am to start the route. After 13 years as a route salesman for the Dairy, he was promoted to Fremont County Sales Manager. During his years in Lander he served as president of the Lander Jaycees and held a state Jaycee office. He also was chairman of the Cancer Society and Heart Fund drives of Lander. His general civic work resulted in him receiving the Jaycee Distinguished Service Award for Community Service.
The family moved to Casper when a position opened at the dairy there. Max worked for Creme O Weber Dairy (WDCI) for many years as a route relief driver, owner of a wholesale and a retail home delivery route in Glenrock and finally as the manager of the Casper branch. As the children grew their parents were always supportive of their events and would be found at various ball and track events. Two of Max’s lifelong passions were hunting and fishing. He would often take the family on trips to get elk, deer, antelope, or other game. This led to many fond memories of the outdoors and camping trips for the entire family. Max kept hunting throughout all his years; it was one of his great passions. He was active in the Pheasants Forever, Wild Turkey Federation and Wyoming Flycasters. Max’s theory of schooling was that schooling was good, but hunting with the family was better. Max and Sharon were married 35 years and then divorced.
Max was later married to Rita (Anderson) Wunder on June 15, 1989. They enjoyed 32 years together. Many hunting and fishing trips for wild turkey, near Devils Tower, deer, antelope and moose, during the beautiful falls on Miller Mountain, float trips on the North Platte and the San Juan river in New Mexico, catching rainbows and browns at Miracle Mile and brook trout on Green Mountain and various other mountain streams. Max always said he forgave Rita for drowning worms and taught her how to fly fish. One thing was usually a constant, Rita would out fish Max!! Max so looked forward to the fall hunting trips with his sons. Rita later joined them and helped out as camp cook. They also enjoyed trips to camp and soak in the hot springs at Thermopolis, Wyoming. Their life together was also manifest in their love for Jesus as Savior and Lord. They so enjoyed gathering with beloved friends for their Sunday worship services, their home group bible study and Aglow gatherings that included many friends from around the state. Max enjoyed painting wildlife and farms scenes and became a wonderful woodworker using black walnut for many of the beautiful pieces of furniture, including cabinets, end tables, and lamps, often with beautiful taxidermy nestled inside. He was known amongst the family as the one person who would never forget your birthday with a card. It didn’t matter if you were an in-law or a great grandchild—you got a card from Max in the mail recognizing your special day. He was also known as the “Donut Grandpa” and always took the grandkids to get donuts, which they thoroughly enjoyed.
Max leaves his posterity: a love of service to others, the belief that hard work begets success and the love of the great outdoors and everything found there. Max is survived by his wife Rita, his children, Larry (Melanie), Tim (Jennifer), Brad (Jaylynn), and Lori (Vic) Duncan, and step sons and daughter, Mark Wunder, Bryan Wunder, and Carrie Laceby. He has 13 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren.
Many thanks to the ICU staff at Wyoming Medical Center for their compassionate care. All those who faithfully prayed for Max’s one hundred percent healing. He wouldn’t have wanted anything less, and for the Grace and Peace over Rita and the rest of the family during this difficult time. Max’s ashes will be spread later this fall at a favorite hunting area. A celebration of life will be held at Restoration Church in the “D” center on Saturday June 19th from 2 to 4. Come help us celebrate Max’s love for life and his family with food, memories and laughter.
Memorials can be made to Wyoming International Aglow ℅ Angie Stevens 143 Muddy Creek Rd, Big Piney, Wy. 83113, the Gideons or a charity of your choice.
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