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Lewis & Wright Funeral Directors

Work 2500 Clarksville Hwy. Nashville TN 37208 Work Phone: 615-255-2371 Work Fax: 615-255-4926 Website: Lewis & Wright Funeral Directors

Biography

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Lewis_Richard profile picBorn in Nashville on October 26, 1944, the first of four children, Richard Allen Lewis, Sr. majored in Business Administration at Tennessee State University. Following graduation from TSU in 1966, he attended the John A. Gupton School of Mortuary Science and earned an Associate’s Degree in Mortuary Science. His father, who died in 1959, owned and operated not only Lewis and Smith Funeral Home, but also Lewis Cab Company. At age nine, Lewis began working as a dispatcher at the taxicab office and later managed the family cab company through his college days. His mother sold her interest in the funeral home in 1960. Upon graduating from mortuary school, Lewis planned to establish himself as a mortician. “But when I looked around and saw that there were 22 Black morticians in the city, I felt that perhaps it was not the time,” he says, “so I thought I would just continue to run my mother’s cab company.” By then there were over two dozen cabs in the fleet, and business was good. After about a year, however, he was getting restless. In 1968, Lewis entered the management training program at a large majority bank in Nashville and went onto become the first Black Business Development officer and branch manager. The last leg of the odyssey was complete when he was assigned to the corporate offices as a commercial lending officer. In 1978, he resigned from the bank to become the Executive Vice President and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Citizens Saving Bank and Trust Company, which, ironically, was located in the building that housed the office from which Lewis was a taxi cab dispatcher. Founded in 1904, Citizens ranks as the second oldest minority owned bank in the nation, Lewis had been on the job only a few days when the bank President died, and less than a week later he was named President. A little over a year later, the Chairman of the Board and grandson of one of the bank’s founders also died, and Lewis, then only 35, took on the additional responsibility of Chairman of the Board. With an aggressive management style and a commitment to the community, Lewis expanded the services of the bank. The bank’s assets had zoomed from approximately $9 million to $34 million when he left the bank in 1984 to devote more attention to his family business, primarily Lewis and Wright Funeral Directors. In the past ten years he has expanded his funeral business, which is now Lewis and Wright Funeral Directors, and opened first a Captain D’s and then later a modern Shoney’s to serve the minority community. He served as Vice Chairman of Tennessee’s State Board of Regents, is a past member of the University School Board of Directors, Girl Scouts of America, Men’s Advisory Board, Small Business Administration Advisory Council, Nashville Crime Stoppers Board of Directors, Tennessee State University Foundation, National and Tennessee Funeral Directors Association, and Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. A long-time member of Lee Chapel AME Church, Lewis is serving as a church trustee, as well as a former President of 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee. Behind every successful man there is a woman. In Lewis’ case, his wife, Delores stands and has stood beside him. They have two sons, Richard A., Jr. and Michael A. His mother, Hattie Lewis, continues to have a major influence on his life.