by Adrienne Decker
Tall tales, jokes, and mythical stories are some of our oldest and most beloved forms of folklore. OFN recognizes the legacy of one of Oregon’s greatest storytellers, Mark Lewis, who passed away unexpectedly on December 7th. Lewis inspired confidence and a deep appreciation for the power of the imagination, promising to always be the supportive “angel in the audience” for the hundreds of students and budding performers he mentored throughout his career. An actor and professional storyteller, Lewis won two Emmy awards for a televised performance of his signature piece “Word Pictures.” He also taught highly popular classes at the UO School of Journalism and had long worked with a variety of educational and recreational programs for youth throughout the state.
On January 10th, hundreds of students, teachers, fellow performers, family and friends attended a memorial service in Lewis’s honor at South Eugene High School, all of them eager to share stories of their encounters with Lewis. Guided by Lewis’s quintessential bit of performance advice to always “Keep Breathing,” the speakers lead the audience through this emotional celebration with humor and grace. Sharing words of gratitude in honor of a man who knew how to live and love well, their stories were punctuated by a few musical moments in which the audience joyously participated. The service was a fitting tribute to the wonder Lewis created through his own storytelling.
Lewis’s passing has inspired an outpouring of anecdotes and photos from the many lives he touched with his personal magic. You can learn more about these cherished memories and share your own at mark.lewis.muchloved.com.