Frances A. 'Fay' Lewis, 67, dies; was expert in African studies, officer at Meridian Center

Wednesday, October 6, 2010; 5:14 PM

Frances A. 'Fay' Lewis

African Studies Expert

Frances A. "Fay" Lewis, an expert in the field of African studies who worked for many years as a program officer at Meridian International Center in Washington, died Sept. 25 at her home in the District of complications from a brain tumor. She was 67.

Dr. Lewis worked to bring young Africans to the United States for educational programs through the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program. She retired from Meridian last spring after 22 years of service.

Frances Anne Leary was born in Washington and grew up in Arlington, Mass. She graduated in 1963 from Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and received a master's degree and doctorate in African history from Northwestern University.

Dr. Lewis taught African and Mideast history at Northwestern and Temple universities. She also was a lecturer at Georgetown University and the Department of State's Foreign Service Institute.

She served from 1977 to 1981 as chair of the Association of African Studies Programs and later helped coordinate the U.S. Fulbright Program in Africa as an employee of the U.S. Information Agency.

Soon after she married Arthur W. Lewis in 1983, her husband was appointed U.S. ambassador to Sierra Leone by President Ronald Reagan. The couple moved to Freetown, where they lived for three years.

In addition to her husband, of Washington, survivors include a stepdaughter, Dale Wentz of Chicago; three brothers; a sister; three grandchildren, including rock musician Pete Wentz; and a great-grandson.

- Emma Brown

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