Remembering John Hardy Lewis

Jul 1, 2022 | Press Release

Remembering John Hardy Lewis

The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) joins with friends, family, and the legal community in remembering John Hardy Lewis, a member of our Legal Advisory Council, a distinguished attorney, and an admired member of his community. Mr. Lewis passed away on June 16, 2022. 

Below is a tribute to Mr. Lewis written by his friend and fellow AFA member Allen Guelzo. 

     JOHN HARDY LEWIS, jnr., who was a member of the legal advisory council created for the Academic Freedom Alliance, died at his home in Philadelphia on June 16, 2022. John was a Princeton University graduate (Class of ‘58) and of Harvard Law School, and rose to become one of the premier trial lawyers of our time. He was a senior partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and then, in 1998, with Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, and finally, in semi-retirement, was of counsel to Langfitt PLLC. He was a formidable litigator, and alternately represented a number of Fortune 500 companies and investors who had been defrauded by them. In 2001, in one of his most famous cases, John won $360 million for the victims of Bentley Financial Services, which had operated one of the largest Ponzi schemes in American history, involving the defrauding of over 3,000 investors. One of his specialties was interpretation and application of Pennsylvania’s Dragonetti Act, which bars lawyers from using the threat of frivolous law suits to intimidate individuals. Although suffering from pneumonia and kidney failure, he was still at work on legal papers until two days before his death. A memorial Mass will be held at St. Matthew’s Church (219 Fayette Street, Conshohocken, PA) on July 16th at 11 am.

    I came to know John Lewis in the years I was part of the ministry of All Saints Church, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, where John was for years the senior warden. I never knew a man of more complete uprightness of character and faith, and he and his wife, Mary Anne (née Spurgeon, whom he married in 1960) virtually adopted our young family. Christmas was never Christmas without a visit to the Lewises. (My son was his sparring partner in the tabletop game of Axis & Allies, which may go some distance toward explaining why my son is now a captain in the U.S. Army). When John was convinced of the rightness of an individual or principle, nothing could sway him from loyalty and support; when he was convinced of a wrong, nothing could spare his condemnation. This was as true of issues of morals as of laws. He was determined in his zeal for academic freedom, and as a Princetonian, eagerly welcomed the creation of the Alliance.

    He was preceded in death by Mary Anne in 2013, and by his son, David, who briefly worked for me as an assistant when I was dean of the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University. He is survived by his Peter and Mark, and three grandchildren. I loved John as a father, and like Elisha beholding the fiery chariot that carried Elijah into heaven, I cry, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof!” (2 Kings 2:12).

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