Robert D.G. Lewis, longtime Washington correspondent for Michigan newspapers, dies at 80

Robert D.G. Lewis, a longtime Washington correspondent for Michigan’s Booth newspaper chain who retired as a senior editor for AARP, died July 10 at Inova Fairfax Hospital. He was 80.

He had pulmonary fibrosis, said his wife, Jacqueline Lewis.

In addition to his reporting career, Mr. Lewis was involved with journalism organizations. He served as chairman of the National Press Club’s board of governors from 1975 to 1977. He was president of the Society of Professional Journalists from 1985 to 1986 and chairman of its Freedom of Information Committee from 1978 to 1983.

SPJ presents an annual award in Mr. Lewis’s honor to a student member who demonstrates devotion to free speech.

Mr. Lewis began his newspaper career in the mid-1950s at the Register-Mail of Galesburg, Ill. He joined Booth Newspapers in the mid-1960s as a statehouse reporter, covering the Michigan Legislature and then-Gov. George Romney (R).


Robert D. G. Lewis was a retired journalist who was a Washington correspondent for Michigan’s Booth newspaper chain. He later worked as a senior editor for AARP. (Family Photo )

He served as a Washington correspondent for Booth from 1966 to 1987. He covered politics, presidential elections, congressional campaigns and the Iran-contra scandal in the Reagan administration.

In a statement submitted to the Congressional Record in 1985, then-Sen. Don Riegle (D-Mich.) called Mr. Lewis the “dean of Michigan’s Washington press corps.”

“Admittedly, those of us in public office do not always appreciate every story written about us and our activities,” Riegle said. “But . . . whenever Bob Lewis writes about us, he has been fair and has written what he perceives to be the truth. That is all that we and the public can ask.”

Mr. Lewis was a senior news correspondent for Newhouse Newspapers in Washington from 1987 to 1991 before serving as an editor of AARP Bulletin. He retired in 1999.

Robert David Gilmore Lewis was born Jan. 16, 1932, in Chicago. His parents were missionaries who built schools in Burma.

He served in the Army during the Korean War and was a 1955 journalism graduate of Michigan State University.

In retirement, Mr. Lewis owned and operated a property-management business. He helped found Washington Intern Student Housing, an organization known as Wish.

His first marriage, to Georgia Demopoulos, ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 23 years, Jacqueline Ennis McGregor Lewis of Washington; seven children from his first marriage, Peter Lewis of New Orleans, Sarah Lewis of Philadelphia, Mary Lewis and Elizabeth Cole, both of Easthampton, Mass., John Lewis of Santa Barbara, Calif., Daniel Lewis of Washington and Susan Bergin of Maplewood, N.J.; two stepdaughters, Katy McGregor Gaietto and Sara McGregor, both of Alexandria; a sister; and 17 grandchildren. A stepdaughter, Jill McGregor, died in 2010.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.