Herb Lewis, a respected industry leader and top executive at Bulova and Allison-Kaufman, died on June 9, just days after his 100th birthday.
A child of the Great Depression, Lewis was born into the jewelry business: His father owned a jewelry store. He served in the Army during World War II and was promoted to first lieutenant and later captain.
In 1948, he joined the Bulova Watch Co. as a salesman. He stayed with the company for 34 years, eventually becoming vice president. One promotion he dreamed up, “Correct Time Week”—spurred by his observation that parking meters and clocks were showing different times—became so popular that it won the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil award.
He retired from Bulova at 65 but didn’t stay idle for long, spending another 15 years as national sales manager and director of marketing for Allison-Kaufman Co., where he became the face of its industry ad campaign. In his later years, he worked for S.A. Kitsinian/Vanna K.
Lewis was active in industry groups and served as president of the 24 Karat Club of Southern California. He was also one of the founders of the Atlanta Jewelry Show and was an early force behind the Pacific Jewelry Show. At one point, the latter event needed a speaker. He filled the room by getting five-star general Omar Bradley—then Bulova’s chairman—to address a function.
In 1984, at age 69, JCK asked him why he kept working.
“Oh, I could retire,” he said. “Money’s not a problem. But what would I do? I love people. I love the jewelry industry. It’s been good to me, and I want to give something back if I can.”
In 1996, JCK marveled that he was still making contributions to the industry, calling him the trade’s “energizer bunny.”
Even in his 90s, he was as active as ever.
“At 93 years old he would hit the road with me,” recalls Arch Kitsinian, president of S.A. Kitsinian. “He would write an individual thank you card to everyone he did business with. He taught me so much.”
Son Mark says he was the same man privately as he was among his peers: “warm, thoughtful, generous, energetic, bright, engaging, focused, athletic, and adventurous.”
Later in life, he pursued his longtime love of baseball. He had played semiprofessional baseball when he was younger, and at 75, his wife sent him to the Dodger fantasy baseball camp, where he became a regular for the next 11 years. At 81, he was elected to the Los Angeles Dodgers Adult Baseball Camp Hall of Fame.
He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Anne; son Mark, who also worked at Bulova; grandson Brian; great grandsons Trevor and Trexton; and great granddaughter Tahari.
His memorial service will be held at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary in Los Angeles, at 11 a.m. on June 15.