Two-time PGA Tour Champion, J.L. Lewis passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on December 31, 2019, after a nine-year battle with multiple myeloma cancer. J.L. was a loving and devoted husband, father, and grandfather and will be deeply missed. Born on July 18, 1960, in Emporia, Kansas, J.L. is survived by his wife, Dawn, his daughter, Sherry Lewis-Ramirez, his son, Cole Lewis, and his grandchildren, Lily and Banyan Lewis-Ramirez, newborn Paxton Lewis, his father John Lewis, sister Beth Paladino, niece Paige Paladino, and her children Eli and Everett Zare.
J.L. was an outstanding golfer who was a member of the PGA TOUR for fifteen years and the PGA Tour Champions for two years. His two PGA Tour wins were at the 1999 John Deere Classic and 2003 84 Lumber Classic. His achievements also include a decisive international win at the Honda Invitational in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he won by eight strokes. In addition to competing on the PGA TOUR, J.L. was a lifetime member of the PGA of America and epitomized the essence of a PGA golf professional. He was widely recognized by fellow golf professionals and the media as a "pro's pro." He was an individual who focused on improving the game of golf and was an avid supporter of The First Tee of America and their core values. After he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and was unable to compete professionally, he dedicated his time to sharing his love of the game with others. For the past nine years, while J.L. battled cancer, he focused on teaching golf in his local community to make a difference in the lives of golfers of all ages.
J.L. was born and raised in Emporia, Kansas. His parents, John and Donna Lewis, both taught in Emporia schools for thirty years. J.L.'s athletic ability was evident from an early age. He played Little League Baseball from 1967 to 1973 and was a winning pitcher with multiple no-hitters. Lewis began playing golf at the age of 7 at Emporia Country Club, where he won the ECC Men's Club Championship twice before graduating from high school. He lettered in football, basketball, and golf at Emporia High School. In 1978 he was named to the Kansas all-state high school basketball team and was awarded a golf scholarship to Emporia State University.
In August 1982, J.L. married Dawn Marie Delavan, who also grew up in Emporia, Kansas, and graduated from Emporia High School in 1978. Dawn's parents are Mary Jane Delavan, a registered nurse, and Philip Delavan, a former track and field coach at the University of Texas in Austin. Dawn, who played golf and participated in track and field and gymnastics, competed on the University of Texas gymnastics team beginning in the fall of 1978. Throughout J.L.'s career, Dawn managed not only his golf career but all business operations as well.
J.L. and Dawn's two children were homeschooled by their parents while J.L. was on Tour. Cole Lewis is a Sales Representative for Callaway Golf and a graduate of Texas State University with a degree in Business Management, where he competed on the Texas State University golf team for four years. Sherry Lewis-Ramirez is a graduate of Southwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business and Communication Studies and is a Waldorf Early Childhood Educator. Sherry is the Communications Director of J.L. Sports, LLC.
By Jim McCabe, PGATOUR.COM
In the past 52 years I’ve been playing or teaching golf to players of all levels and ages. What I love the most about teaching is that I’m always learning. Every day something new emerges in terms of how to make the improvement easier for the student. I’ve won at the highest level, so I can relate when someone says they are nervous or flustered by certain situations. Because of this, I make a huge effort to shorten the learning curve for students. Helping the student know their best swing is the number one priority to simplify things so they can think less about their swing, and more about where they want their ball to go. This is the essence of golf.
Written by J.L. in the final month of his life