Older woman with a bun and glasses.
Jane M. Lewis loved walks around Lake Merritt and was active in her church community. Credit: Phillippa Moss

Jane M. Lewis, a beloved mother, devoted community member, and lifelong learner peacefully passed away on Sept. 6 in Duluth, Georgia. She was 94.

Jane’s journey began on July 13, 1929, in Texarkana, Texas, where she was born to Benjamin Myers and Bertha Langston Myers. She was the youngest of three siblings, sharing her childhood with her brother, Benjamin Myers, and sister, Bertha (Myers) Crumpton. Growing up, Jane’s parents instilled in her the value of a solid education, a principle that would shape her future.

After completing her early education, Jane graduated from Dunbar High School with distinction. She continued her academic journey at Prairie View A&M University in Houston, Texas, where she pursued her passion for political science and also displayed her athletic prowess as a member of the soccer team.

It was during her college years that Benjamin introduced Jane to her future husband, Allen Lewis. They relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area and joyfully welcomed five children: Pippa, Corey, Pamela, Brandon, and Phillippa. The family lived in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Compton, and eventually planted roots in Oakland, where Jane spent much of her life. She lived the last two years in Georgia with her youngest daughter, Phillippa, and son-in-law, Wayne.

Painting-like portrait of a young woman, from roughly the 1940s.
Jane Lewis as a young woman. Credit: Courtesy Pamela Turntine

In the Bay Area, Jane embarked on a diverse career path. Her first employment was with the IRS in San Francisco, where she exhibited her dedication and strong work ethic. Later, she served as a social worker and eventually found her niche as a court administrator for Alameda County, a role she fulfilled with distinction for many years before retiring. Even after her retirement, Jane’s thirst for knowledge led her to take private investigative classes at Merritt College in Oakland, where she earned her investigation license. 

Jane’s faith played a central role in her life, just as it did in her upbringing in Texas. She became an unwavering member of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Oakland, where she actively served on the board of trustees for an extended period, exemplifying her commitment to her spiritual community.

A resident of Oakland for more than six decades, Jane established her roots in the Millsmont neighborhood, where she purchased her first and only home in the foothills. Before she bought her Oakland home, she was also eyeing property in Lafayette but she said she relented to her children, who wanted to remain in Oakland. She loved her community and neighbors, who looked after her as she grew older.

During Jane’s professional life, she spent countless hours inside courtrooms, where she thrived. But after her courtroom duties, she would enjoy frequent walks with her colleagues around Lake Merritt.

Jane’s connection to Oakland extended beyond her neighborhood and workplace. She cherished her weekends spent at Jack London Square’s bustling farmers market.

She also enjoyed taking out-of-town guests and friends to Kincade’s to enjoy delicious meals and the scenery by the bay.

A smiling woman wearing a straw hat.
Jane Lewis. Credit: Courtesy Pamela Turntine

She was also a big sports fan, particularly football. She followed the Oakland Raiders religiously and instilled that love of sports in some of her children. She really enjoyed watching college football on Saturdays.

An avid follower of politics, Jane could often be found engrossed in newspapers and online news sites, subscribing to numerous publications to stay well-informed and engaging others in spirited conversations. Her love for travel took her to various corners of the United States, and she cherished the opportunity to join her daughter, Pamela, on a memorable European journey. Among the many beautiful places she visited, Nice, France, held a special place in her heart. Additionally, she provided unwavering support to her youngest daughter, Phillippa, and granddaughter, Koko, during their adventure in Egypt.

Jane’s legacy lives on through her five children: Pippa Dempsey (Taharka), Corey Lewis, Pamela Lewis Turntine (Sherman), Brandon Lewis (Evelyn), and Phillippa (Lewis) Moss (Wayne). She is also survived by cousins Laverne Tarkington (Don), Charlesetta Coleman-Miller and Oweita Dunwood; niece Desiree Y. (Myers) Adkisson; grandchildren N’lyxia Koko Reisinger, Adaeze Dempsey, Kevin Brown Dempsey, Na’im Moss, Hadiya Lewis, Biko Lewis, and Travis, Chasity, Joseph, Brittany, Laquanta, and Joshua Bradley; and great-grandchildren twins Jaidin Blaize and De’vianna Sapphire Reisinger. Loved ones include sister-in-law Connie Dillard Myers, along with a vast network of relatives and friends, who share in the grief of her loss.

In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that donations be sent to the Church of the Good Shepherd, with attention to the “Jane Lewis Academia Scholarship” at 799 52nd St., Oakland, CA, 94609. This scholarship will serve as a fitting tribute to Jane’s lifelong commitment to education and her unwavering support for her community.

Jane touched the lives of many, leaving behind cherished memories, an enduring love for learning, and a legacy of service and devotion to her faith and family. She will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing her.

Jane Lewis’ Celebration of Life will be held 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14, in the Wave Community Center at Emerald Glen Park, 4201 Central Parkway, in Dublin.

Pamela Turntine is editor-in-chief of Berkeleyside and one of Jane Lewis’ daughters.