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Louise Wilson Lewis

August 22, 2011

Louise Wilson Lewis, a Glendale civic leader and lifelong volunteer activist, died at home on August 18 after an extended battle with metastatic melanoma. She was 64.

Louise was born in Los Angeles at Good Samaritan Hospital on June 9, 1947. Her parents were Ralph Arza Wilson and the former Silvie Seymour Wallace. Louise grew up in Atwater Village, where she soon revealed what would become a lifelong trait: the willingness to raise her hand when anyone asked for volunteers.

While still in elementary school, she tutored fellow students in math and reading and served as an assistant in the vice principal's office. At 12, she began teaching Sunday School at St. Francis Episcopal Chapel, where she was very active in the youth group. At 16, responding to her priest’s suggestion, she began volunteering as a candy striper at Glendale Memorial Hospital.

 That was also the year her father died. Louise, the elder of two daughters, was thrust at a young age into a family leadership position. As always, she accepted the responsibility and did what needed to be done.

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After graduating from John Marshall High School, she enrolled at Pepperdine University as a pre-med major but financial pressure on her family soon diverted her from school to the business world. For fourteen years Louise was the office manager for the Walt Disney Studios technical division known as "the Machine Shop," where she worked under the legendary innovator Don Iwerks. When he eventually decided to leave Disney and strike out on his own, Louise went with him to help co-found Iwerks Entertainment. Then she retired early to devote herself to volunteering.

While Louise never realized her youthful ambition to become a doctor, she enjoyed an extraordinary 48-year career at Glendale Memorial Hospital as a volunteer. In 2008, the hospital recognized her for having given 32,000 hours of service. During her career as a volunteer, she served on the hospital's Community Board; as the first woman chair of its Health Foundation Board; and as president (several times) of its Auxiliary Guild.

Beyond Glendale, Louise served two terms as president of the San Gabriel Area Council of Hospital Volunteers, and two years on the Volunteer Board of the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems.

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