Colleagues around both the Alvin and surrounding Houston area communities expressed their deepest condolences for the loss of Bill Lewis, who passed away on Aug. 8.
Initially coming to ACC in 1982 and ultimately working full time at the college in 1985, Lewis also served as the department chair of communications at Alvin Community College, the director of KACC Radio/TV 89.7 FM and the school’s athletic director.
“Bill was an inspiration to all the students,” KACC station manager Mark Moss said. “He dedicated his life to improving education and cared about each student. He poured his heart into each class that he taught.
“He was also a great teacher outside of the classroom too. I will always be thankful that he helped me be a better parent and teacher. He spent many hours also teaching me how to fish saltwater. I will always think of him and miss him whenever I take my daughters fishing.”
Lewis was also present during many memorable athletic moments in both AISD and ACC history.
The University of Houston graduate painted pictures over the airwaves for KACC listeners to celebrate both the state championship football milestone of the 2019 Shadow Creek Sharks and the Sharks’ 2018 appearance in the state title game, along with the state title football game runs of the 2017 and 2011 Manvel Mavericks, the 2008 state softball champion Alvin Lady Yellowjackets, the 1999 Alvin Lady Yellowjacket volleyball regional championship and the national tournament appearance by the 1990-91 ACC Dolphins’ Basketball team.
“Bill has experienced every victory and every loss for Alvin, Manvel and Shadow Creek high schools over the last 35 years,” AISD athletic director Mike Bass said. “Alvin ISD lost a great friend to the district and I
lost a brother.
“You always heard two words when people talked about Bill Lewis, respect and integrity. No one could call the game with the knowledge that Bill Lewis had. People could live the game through his voice, because Bill was so vivid in his description and passion. He was a true professional and he did it for the love of broadcasting.”
Lewis’ impressive list of broadcast colleagues over the years featured Rick Pendergrast, brother Steve Lewis and sons Geoffrey and Tommy Lewis, AT&T Sportsnet Southwest’s Kevin Eschenfelder, Drew Sullins, Houston DJ Tom Fontaine, Joe Hollier of Pipeline and Glass Journal, Paul Fonte, Joe Moreno, Channel 26’s David Canada, David Lanier, Moss, Alex Dickinson, Kevin Hudson and Ryan Middleton.
“He was my instructor, my mentor, my inspiration and my friend,” said Hollier, who added that Lewis got him a paid internship at KPRC after he enrolled in the college’s radio/tv program. “We called numerous sporting events together, including ACC’s infamous run in the JUCO tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas.
“It’s no secret that ACC had the best people coming out of college, as they were all prepared. I told my wife, Jennifer, the day that Bill passed that it’s unreal the number of lives he impacted. I don’t know how the college will replace him. It will take an army.”
Middleton admitted to having some nerves when he started teaming with Lewis in the broadcast booth. However, a few tips from the veteran during the pair’s pregame preparation ultimately “loosened him up and he began having a fun time calling the games with him.”
“The things that Bill told me stick with me today,” Middleton said. “He said to paint a picture when calling the game or giving color commentary, try not to step on each other when calling the game and don’t curse on the air. KACC can’t afford an FCC fine.
“Bill was so proud of his kids’ accomplishments and he would make sure every night to give a shout out to special guests, friends and most of all, his wife Barbara over the air. Bill was a special person to so many and there will never be another like him.
“The Alvin community lost a legend, but he will never be forgotten.”
Lewis told the Sun and Advertiser in 2012 that he grew up admiring the play-by-play styles of both Astros’ broadcasting legend Gene Elston and the Rockets’ Gene Peterson.
“I don’t think I patterned myself after Elston, because he was doing baseball and I’m now doing football,” he said. “But he was a guy who didn’t get excited and wasn’t a screamer. He was very matter of fact about the game. I think I bring that to the football broadcasts. I try to get the facts across and try to get excited when it’s appropriate.
“But I don’t want to be screaming where people don’t understand what’s going on.”
Lewis’ reserved delivery mixed with timely excitement in the booth drew respective praise from past broadcaster partners and others involved in the industry.
“Bill is the cleanest play-by-play announcer I’ve ever heard, even on the college level,” Hudson said. “When I was doing stats for him, he already knew the totals of the quarterback and running back before I could tell him.
“He had already pulled those values together in his head.”
CMC Communications president Charles McCullough also paid tribute to Lewis on the organization’s facebook page, saying Lewis “gave him valuable assistance” after CMC suffered some damaged equipment due to Hurricane Harvey.
“Bill kicked in and let us use one of his station mixers, plus a mike cord in key game broadcasts,” McCullough said. “Bill was the best in every qualifier of the word and he was flat out the very best play-by-play man in any market anywhere and in any media.”
A private service was held for Bill Lewis on Aug. 15 and the family plans to hold a community wide celebration to honor Bill’s legacy at Alvin Memorial Stadium later in the fall. The family is also honoring Bill’s legacy with the creation of the Bill Lewis Memorial Scholarship Fund.
The scholarships are designed to provide tuition assistance to ACC students in need and continue to celebrate Bill for years to come. Donations can be made through the link https://epay.alvincollege.edu/C20358_ustores/web/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCTID=414 or mailing address Alvin Community College Education Foundation: 3110 Mustang Rd, Alvin, Texas 77511.