Obituary: John Lewis (1946-2010)
WE ARE SAD TO REPORT THAT JOHN LEWIS, A MUCH-LOVED AND LONG-TIME FCCJ member, succumbed to a heart attack on July 29 in Honolulu, aged 64.
John was the first correspondent for CNN in Asia – a relationship, he recalled, that began with a phone call from Atlanta while he was sitting in the FCCJ bar in 1980. He would eventually be responsible for opening most of the network’s Asia bureau and spent 18 years supervising its regional news coverage.
Beyond Japan, John covered such stories as the Tiananmen Square massacre in China and the assassinations of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi in India. After reluctantly leaving Japan, John became the senior international assignment manager for CNN in Atlanta.
John was born in Ohio in August, 1946. During four years in the U.S. Army he served as an intelligence specialist in Vietnam and received several medals, including the Purple Heart. Later, he served the Army as a disk jockey (for both AFN in Europe and FEN-Itazuke) and as writer/editor for a military publication in the U.S.
After leaving the service, he returned to Japan and took up journalism. Prior to joining CNN he was a correspondent for both Asiaweek and The Far Eastern Economic Review and as morning news anchor for JCTV.
John received two Emmy awards (for coverage of Black Monday and China 1988-1989) and the Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia University Award and George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award, also for China coverage.
John earned an undergraduate degree at Ohio University, and advanced degrees at Tokyo’s Sophia University that culminated in a Ph.D.
John was a member of the FCCJ for 22 years. He served as Chairman of the Movie and Entertainment committees and also was a member of the Personnel and PAC committees.
After retiring from CNN, John worked for two years at the East West Center in Honolulu before moving to Hawaii’s premier public relations firm, Communications Pacific. His first novel, Yen Conspiracy, was published just four months ago to critical acclaim.
Colleagues recall his fierce professionalism, integrity, understated brilliance and slightly skewed sense of humor.
John is survived by his wife Reiko, an interior designer, and son, also John, who lives in Tokyo and currently works for the pop-group Exile.