Henry Lewis, 70, taught children the joys of fishing and crabbing

December 21, 1997|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

The first time Henry Lewis took a group of young novices fishing at the Hanover Street Bridge in South Baltimore, one of the boys held a small perch aloft and called himself "a real mountain man."

Mr. Lewis calmly took the boy's 4- or 5-inch catch and told him that his meager yield from their four- or five-hour fishing trip did not make him an outdoorsman.

"But he said it in such a way that the kid's feelings weren't hurt and that he'd want to come back and give it another try," said Tony Price, a longtime friend and fishing buddy of Mr. Lewis', who died Monday of heart failure at his Brooklyn home. He was 70.

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"He was mainly just interested in having the kids try something new, which it was."

For 20 years, Mr. Lewis spent many of his summer mornings -- as well as much of his day -- fishing and crabbing in the waters near Harbor Hospital Center and the Hanover Street Bridge.

Called "Jonesy" for reasons no one seems to know, Mr. Lewis was popular in most South Baltimore neighborhoods and parts of northern Anne Arundel County. He frequently took youngsters fishing.

He'd provide all the fishing gear and bait; all the boys needed was patience.

"When he said 'Let's go fishing' and they said 'yeah,' they didn't realize that it was several hours before the crack of dawn," Mr. Price said.

Mr. Lewis, a squat man with thick, husky hands and raspy voice, would wade quickly into the cold water near the hospital to set traps for crabs, while the youngsters stayed ashore.

"Jonesy didn't seem to have much fear of anything," said Jerrold Holloway, who lives in Cherry Hill and has gone fishing with Mr. Lewis every year for the past 12 years. "He wasn't worried about getting his clothes messed up because they weren't too good anyway. He seemed to be immune to the cold or anything in the water that might nip at him or snip his foot.

"He'd come out of the water with a couple of crabs, just a smiling and seeming like it's not cold and he wasn't wet."

A native of Dover, Del., Mr. Lewis served in Army from 1945 to 1947 during World War II and again from 1950 to 1952 during the Korean War. He received a World War II Victory Medal and the Korean Service Medal.

Upon his discharge, he moved to Baltimore and worked for the city Department of Recreation and Parks, maintaining athletic fields. From 1960 to 1965, he worked for the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co., helping clear heavy brush from telephone wires.

He worked for many years as manager and part owner of the old Candy Store in Brooklyn before health concerns forced him to retire in the 1980s.

"He sampled everything time and time again at the Candy Store," said Welton Pullman, who worked at the Candy Store with Mr. Lewis. "He was a bit of a candy freak, so a candy store was not the best place for him to work."

A memorial service is being planned for next month.

He is survived by two daughters, Carla Peters of San Francisco and Ella Amad of White Plains, N.Y.; a brother, Samuel Lewis of Baltimore; three sisters, Marian Lewis of Dover, Del., Sarah Louis of Eldersburg, and Tessa Clark of Ellicott City; and four grandchildren.

Pub Date: 12/21/97

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