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Anne Ware Lewis passed away last week at the too-young age of 56. Most readers of this column likely have never heard Anne’s name, but she was an insider’s insider of Georgia Republican politics.
Anne was an attorney, but not just any attorney. She represented the Georgia Republican Party and many other Republican and conservative causes. She was a trusted confidante to those who sought her counsel and a worthy adversary to those on opposite sides of her issues. To put it simply, Anne was excellent at what she did.
I was honored to know Anne, but regret only getting to know her beyond professional acquaintance until the last couple of years. As fierce as she could be as a lawyer, she was equally kind, compassionate, and caring in her everyday life.
She was the first person I called when I learned that my mom had been diagnosed with what I believed to be a similar form of cancer that Anne had been battling for most of this decade. She happened to be receiving a chemotherapy treatment when I called, and took the time to help me process what I had been told, and what my mom and our family could expect.
She was quite reassuring in that the form of cancer we were dealing with was usually quite treatable though none of us were comfortable using the word “cure” at the time. It was also quite clear in the conversation as she compared my Mom’s diagnosis with her own that Anne didn’t have the same expectations or options.
It was quintessential Anne. She was happy to be of help, and glad to pass on reassurance to a friend that badly needed it that day. Knowing her own battle was significantly more precarious, she vowed to persevere, and fight until she couldn’t.
Her funeral was attended by a who’s who of Georgia politics. There were congressmen, state legislators and countless local elected officials and party operatives in attendance. Most notable, a majority of the members of the State Supreme Court and Court of Appeals were present.
Perhaps most important were the roughly three quarters of the congregation that were not political people at all. Anne clearly leaves a professional legacy and a void in Georgia’s political and legal circles. She was also deeply involved in her community, in her church, and with her family. She had a life outside of politics, and it was equally exemplary.
I spoke to a friend after the service who was seated next to a non-political friend of Anne’s. That person was surprised to learn that Anne was politically active, or a Republican – which is quite rare in Decatur these days. The priest conducting the service even remarked that it was the largest number of Republicans he had ever seen at the parish.
The friend of Anne knew her as an active church member. She knew she was deeply involved in civic organizations throughout DeKalb County. She also knew her to be quite generous and personally involved in charitable efforts she supported. She was surprised to learn that Anne had time to participate in political activities, and that she was apparently as prominent as she was.
Anne Ware Lewis has long been known to those of us in political circles as someone who we should want to emulate. Her work ethic, dedication, and unimpeachable character combined with a selfless personality as well as someone who would prefer others get the credit for her actions are truly rare.
Rarer still is the quality of life that Anne lived in total service to others outside of politics. She was a wife, mother of two fine sons, and an active member of her church and community.
She didn’t let her profession or political activities fully define her, nor was that the summation of giving back to her community. Quite the contrary, Anne Lewis was a deeply committed family, church and civic individual who happened to dabble a bit in politics.