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An exciting career path took them from the nation's capital to the world's oil capital, with colorful adventures in between. But Les and Lois Lewis say one of their most rewarding experiences has been supporting the work of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
That relationship was born in the late 1950s, when the couple attended a show in Washington, D.C.'s Constitution Hall. They were captivated by entertainer Danny Thomas, who was describing his plans to build a shrine to St. Jude.
Les vividly remembers listening to Thomas talk about his dream of building a unique hospital devoted to curing catastrophic diseases in children. "Danny's enthusiasm was amazing," Les recalls. "He had been traveling around the country speaking about his dream and gathering entertainers and businessmen to support this cause. All who attended the event were struck by his wonderful devotion."
"That night the seed was planted for our later fund-raising efforts for St. Jude," he continues. "As we all know, life goes on, and we get involved with the business of living, raising families and working."
After Les graduated from Georgetown University, the couple spent two years at the U.S. Consulate General in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Returning to the United States, Les attended law school and then joined Aramco (now called Saudi Aramco), which sent them back to Saudi Arabia. In 2000, Les retired from that company after having spent 35 years as its legal counsel. "When things calmed down for us personally, we wanted to give something back to the world. St. Jude immediately came to mind," he says.
The Lewises' involvement with St. Jude has been greatly influenced by their friendship with Richard Shadyac, chief executive officer of ALSAC.
"I first met Dick in Washington, D.C., when he was the captain of our bowling team," Les says. "To my knowledge, Dick's efforts to teach me how to bowl are the only thing at which he has ever failed! We have always known that whatever activity or organization Dick would head would be efficient and well-run."
Now married 47 years, Les and Lois have worked tirelessly to raise money and awareness for St. Jude in the Houston, Texas, area. Lois has chaired four annual "Fly Me to the Moon Galas" in Houston. These events have raised nearly $500,000 for St. Jude.
The Lewises have also hosted receptions in their home, where new donors and companies learn how they can support St. Jude. And three of the Lewises' grandchildren have baked cookies, gone door to door asking for donations, held garage sales and supported St. Jude in a variety of other ways.
"We've had a very blessed life," Lois says. "We have a wonderful family of two sons and two daughters, 12 grandchildren, numerous good friends and now, the opportunity to lend our support to such a wonderful organization as St. Jude."