Remembering Horace Lewis

Horace Lewis — Staples High School’s hugely respected, always helpful, ever-smiling head custodian for many years — died last night.

Horace Lewis

He suffered a major stroke this summer, just a few months after retiring from the Westport Public Schools. For 32 years, he gave his heart and soul to our district

After fighting to recover, he suffered a setback earlier this month when he was diagnosed with COVID. His wife Bonnie said:

Horace went quietly and comfortably. He was just too tired too fight. The love, concern,. and support from all is amazing. He would be humbled, and so grateful for everything. All the thoughtful, kind, encouraging words have lifted his spirits.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

In September, “06880” honored Horace Lewis. Here is that post:


For 32 years, Horace Lewis did everything for everyone in Westport.

Now it’s time for Westport to do something for him.

When he retired in July of 2020, he was honored as “06880’s” Unsung Hero of the Week. I wrote about his devotion to Staples High School. Horace was head custodian there — following the same role at Coleytown Middle School — and though he was a stay-out-of-the-limelight guy, I wanted to shine a light on the care and love he lavished on the building.

Classrooms, hallways, auditorium, a gym and fieldhouse and athletic fields, a cafeteria and 2 teaching kitchens, a library, TV studio, storage areas, boilers and HVAC systems — Horace knew them all. He made them sparkle, shine and work.

Horace Lewis, in a typical pose.

He hired and supervised a superb staff. He held them to high standards. But whenever something went wrong, he was the one who got the call. Broken pipes, a bad odor, a security alarm: Horace was there.

His was a stressful job. But never stopped smiling, working, or serving the building and everyone in it.

Horace Lewis (right) and shift supervisor Tom Cataudo greet the staff and students during the 2015 graduation processional.

Even after his official retirement, stayed on. Staples was coping with COVID. Every hand was needed, so Horace lent his.

Five months ago, he got the chance to retire fully. He helped his daughter with her business. He enjoyed his kids and grandchildren. It was what retirement should be.

But on the day of his 35th anniversary a major stroke derailed his plans, and his life with his wife Bonnie.

Horace went into cardiac arrest twice. He is now in recovery, working to regain his motor skills, speech, and walking capabilities.

When Horace returns home, he will need a wheelchair ramp and other necessities. Meanwhile, bills not covered by insurance pile up. It’s a very tough situation for the entire family.

Horace faced many tough situations, at Staples and Coleytown. With intelligence, creativity, patience — and always a smile — he solved them all.

Family and friends have set up a GoFundMe page. Click here, to pay forward a little bit of the large debt we all owe Horace Lewis.

9 responses to “Remembering Horace Lewis

  1. Kathie Bennewitz

    It is with a heavy heart that I–and all of our WestPAC team–send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Horace Lewis’s family, and to his friends and coworkers at Westport Public Schools. Horace was amazing person, with a warm personality, unforgettable smile.and tremendous work ethic. Our daughters followed him to CMS and then to SHS and he was always quick to say hello, and also offer WestPAC any help he could offer. A help very sad day indeed.

  2. We are so devastated to hear this news. Horace was a giant among men. Our family has known Horace for years. Always the biggest smile. Always willing to help. An incredibly hard worker. An incredible human being. He dropped everything to help. We are so sorry for his family. Our deepest condolences to the Lewis family.
    People can still donate to the gofundme page.
    Such a very sad day.

  3. Werner Liepolt

    Such sad news… Horace was a major factor in supporting teachers, helping students and making every building where he worked a healthier and happier place.

    My sincere condolences to all those who held him dear..

  4. Horace was such a gentle soul and lovely person. He worked hard for the children of this town and will be deeply missed. Sending sincere condolences to his family.

  5. This is very sad, rest in peace, a great man, always smiling. When we brought Veterans in to speak before covid on Vets Day every year, he made them so comfortable. I am sad.

  6. So very sad he was such a gentle giant…

  7. Marjorie Almansi

    So very sorry to hear this. His smile and spirit would light up any room. My deep condolences to his family.

  8. I worked with Horace for several years and I can say without hesitation that he was the best head custodian I ever worked with. Over my career, I worked in five different high schools. All had men in similar positions. NONE were as good as Horace. Thank you Horace for the light you brought into this world.

  9. Jessica Chatman

    Thank you everyone for the kind words about my Dad! He is loved by so many! The man that you got to know was absolutely the man we had at home times 1000. My Dad was amazing, loving, kind and so dependable! The best Dad and husband a family could ever ask for! Thank you so much for condolences, we as his family sincerely appreciate it! – Jessica