Distinguished Chicago Fire Department Battalion Chief and Hyde Park resident Oswald B. Lewis passed away peacefully on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at Mercy Hospital.
Lewis was born in Louisville, Kentucky to Oswald Lewis and Sallie Smith. He lived most of his adult life in Chicago.
Affectionately known to his friends and family members as O. B., Lewis graduated from Central High School in 1942 and migrated to Chicago. He joined the U.S. Army in 1945; he served in the South Pacific during World War II and received a Bronze Star. After he returned from the war he attended Roosevelt University where he met the love of his life, Vivian Miller. He and Vivian married Jan. 14, 1947.
Lewis’s 24-year career with the Chicago Fire Department began in 1955. He rose through the ranks to become one of the city’s few African American battalion chiefs. He served on Snorkel Squad 1 in 1963, the first integrated company in the department’s history. He was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to the Fire Prevention Bureau in 1965, Snorkel Squad 3 in 1965, and Flying Manpower Squad 4 in 1969. After promotion to captain in 1969, he was assigned to Flying Manpower Squad 2 in 1971. His promotion to battalion chief in 1974 was followed in 1976 by his last assignment as battalion chief of the 14th Battalion in Roseland, where he remained until his retirement in 1979.
Lewis is survived by his wife Vivian Lewis; his sons Attorney Oswald Gregory (Maria) Lewis of Chicago; Dr. Berry (Crystal) Lewis of Chicago; and software developer David (Jackie) Lewis of Chicago; his daughters Dr. Vivian (Rustam) Lewis Tahir of Rochester, NY; and author and editor Mary Lewis of Chicago; his niece Gerri Ann, his nephew Derek, and his many loving grandsons and cousins. Lewis’s brother Joe J. Lewis preceded him in death.
A viewing service for Lewis was planned from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 27, at Cage Funeral Home, 7651 S. Jeffrey Ave. Funeral services for Lewis will begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 28 at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 655 E. 88th St.