Dr. John Lewis

February 14, 1944 to September 13, 2023


John died on Sept. 13/2023 at his home of 46 years in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with his wife reassuringly stroking his forehead.  He was 79 years old, the not-so-quiet sufferer of heart problems and severe diabetes.  Finally, his heart had had enough.

John was an only child; he and his first wife had no children to survive them, and she lost out to cancer & heart problems almost 40 years ago.

John remarried, and is survived by his present wife (Marilyn) and her 2 children  …  Bill (Noemi), and Kathy (Doug).  Although John himself had no children of his own, his relatives (mostly in other parts of Canada) are many.  Then there are his students and former students, and colleagues.

Although born in Montreal, Quebec, John and his parents soon moved to Ontario.   As an ‘air-force brat’, John called many places home —- from Ottawa, Toronto, and Edmonton, Canada to Paris, France, to Utrecht in the Netherlands  —-  if ‘home is where you hang your hat’.

John earned his BSc & MSc degrees from Carleton University in Ottawa, and his PhD from the University of Toronto.  Following a 6-year post-doc (academic internship) at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, John returned to Canada, and began a rewarding career at Memorial University of Newfoundland (from 1977 until his retirement in 2016 or so) as an innovative physics professor for more than 40 years, as an ice ‘engineer’, researcher, & scientist … and as an artist & art historian.

Physics was the main focus of John’s multi-layered life, and he always took a keen interest in his physics students – especially those who actually studied – and followed each one’s development in his career; (most physics students used to be male!)

John was also a mean piano player!

After cremation, a funeral/memorial service will be held at Carnell’s Funeral Home, 329 Freshwater Road in St. John’s on Monday, September 18th at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the SPCA.



2:00pm, Monday September 18th

Carnell’s Funeral Home
329 Freshwater Road
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Very sad to find out the passing of my graduate MSc supervisor, Dr. Lewis. He was incredibly knowledgable, kind and I will always be grateful to have had him. My condolences to his family and friends.

I feel sad to hear that John has passed away. I have pleasant memories of chatting with him over a beer on a Friday afternoon after work. My condolences to his family and friends. He will be missed.

John and I were colleagues for many years in the department of physics. His friendship was highly valued as were our many chats and interactions interspersed with his witty sense of humour. He was articulate and eloquent in his love of physics and physics teaching. My sincere condolences to family and friends.

My sincere condolences to Dr. Lewis’ family and friends. I will always be grateful to have had him as my undergraduate thesis supervisor and mentor. He was incredibly insightful and supportive in all things; setting the bar high in research and courses while also encouraging taking breaks from studying for music and art. I will fondly remember his patience, bluntness, and kindness.

Very sad to hear about John’s passing. My condolences to his family and friends. He was a very interesting gentleman who was very well spoken and knowledgeable on many subjects. I always enjoyed chatting with him at work, and I often had to consult a dictionary after the conversation. He will be truly missed by many.

We were deeply sorry to hear of John’s passing. I’d been wondering about his flagging health in the last couple of years, after his post-retirement Departmental visits stopped. I first knew John as one of my MUN undergraduate physics profs back in the 80’s (a particularly – but gently – intimidating one; broadly brilliant and with high expectations of his students). In later years back in the Department I came to know him as a quiet semi-colleague in astrophysics here: I helped his students in aspects of computational astrophysics while he allowed me the opportunity to sessionally teach the two astro courses he covered. But I came to know him also as a keen devotee of the arts, especially as my own father (once MUN physics himself) was an artist and musician as well. After retirement, John would come back to the Department as he could to give Art History lectures, which were always insightful, informed and a bit quirky. He was a fascinating and greatly multifaceted person. He will be deeply missed. Deepest sympathies and condolences to Marilyn and family.

I was so sorry to hear about Dr. Lewis passing..Marilyn and Family-my condolences on passing of Dr.John.I miss him.

Marilyn and Family – My condolences on the passing of John. I knew him as a student, as a colleague in the consulting world of ice and as a fellow faculty member in physics. John could surprise me with his knowledge or perspective. He loved to explore ideas, sometimes for their depth, sometimes for their quirkiness. He held to high standards of intellectual rigour but I also recall many acts of kindness in support of students. I will miss him.

I was so sorry to hear about Dr. Lewis passing. I worked in the Physics General Office for 15 years. I had great respect for Dr. Lewis and we had many interesting conversations over the years. My sincere condolences to Marilyn and the extended family and friends

John distinguished himself not only as a scientist but also because of breadth of his knowledge in many areas, and as a talented musician. It is indeed sad to realize that such an impressive intellect has now been silenced. Our sincere condolences to Marilyn and the family.

Very sad to hear of the passing of Cousin John. He had a great intellect and interest on a wide variety of subjects which combined with a sense of humour made him great to be around. Even though we haven’t seen each other since Alyson’s wedding in Maui, I have enjoyed our e-mails on history, Welsh music and the like. He will be very much missed by his Lewis cousins.

John was one of the first people I met when I arrived at Memorial. In 1983. We would cross paths regularly during the next 30 or so years, and even after retirement when he would make occasional visits to the physics department. Sadly missed.

I recall taking a course in relativity from John some tme around 1980. It inspired me so much I made a career of it. His lectures were lively, interesting., and punctuated by that wonderful dry humour of his.

I was a Physics/Math student at MUN in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s,, and took several undergrad courses from John. He also was my BSc. honours thesis advisor – the non-results of which were in no way his fault. I remember him with great fondness; he was an interesting, intelligent and multifaceted guy, with an exquisitely dry sense of humour. I’m sorry to near of his passing, and offer my condolences to his family and friends.

I’m so sorry to read of John’s passing. We began our careers at MUN at the same time in the Physics Department and over the years my late wife Christine and I would often seeJohn and Marilyn at performances at Avalon Mall Special Events. Unfortunately my. Career took me away from the Physics Department so I missed having conversations with J0hn. Most recently Kathy brought me up to date on John and MarIlyn. My sincere condolences,

Dear Marilyn and family, Our sincere condolences on John’s passing. John’s love of physics, astronomy and art was inspiring. He will be missed.

John was a great man. So very sorry to hear of his passing.

I was saddened to hear that John had passed on to the next life. As a fellow member of the Physics Department, I interacted with John in many ways over the years, but always with a sense of respect, appreciation and acknowledgement of his skill both as a scientist and as a colleague in the department.
My sincere condolences to Marilyn and the rest of his family.

I was one of Dr. Lewis’s non-male students! He supervised my undergraduate thesis project and years later we co-authored an abstract on the work. He was a thoughtful and wryly funny mentor. I learned that physics faculty fell into one of two groups: those that answered a knock on the office door and those that answered the phone, but rarely both – he felt he should respond to a student who put in the extra effort to visit his office. I also have many decades of fond memories of him as a friend of the family. In recent years we heard lots about the comings and goings of the Lewis’s and the botanical art group through mom. One of the last times I saw them was at my wedding – the gathering wouldn’t have been complete without them.

Of all my mentors, he influenced my thinking the most. I am very sad to hear of his passing. Condolences to Marilyn and the rest of his family.

John was a great mentor to me when I was starting my career as a physicist. I later pivoted to more lucrative endeavours, but John’s influence remained. He taught me to be curious about everything, and to have fun with it while I was doing it. I was lucky to have him supervise my undergraduate thesis project, and his astrophysics class changed the course of my life entirely. He will be missed.

Dear Marilyn and family, we offer our sincerest condolences on the recent passing of your beloved John. We had some fun adventures and meals together with the two of you and we shall never forget him. I really enjoyed his art history lessons and his quirky artistic ability. I wish I could have known him longer!
May fond memories of John live on in your hearts and minds. May you be comforted that he no longer suffers.
Our hearts are overflowing with love and support for you as you pass through this inevitable moment in life.