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George Lewis

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Information about George Lewis

Profile image of George Lewis

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Corporate Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Greens, Seafood
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Dominican Republic, Rome
Favorite Quote:
Stay Focused.

Birthplace

Born:
3/7/1941
Birth Location:
Burgess, Virginia

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Corporate Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Greens, Seafood
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Dominican Republic, Rome
Favorite Quote:
Stay Focused.

Birthplace

Born:
3/7/1941
Birth Location:
Burgess
See how George Lewis is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Pioneering corporate executive George Ralph Lewis was born on March 7, 1941, in Burgess, Virginia, a small Chesapeake Bay fishing village. His mother, Edith Toulson Lewis, was a homemaker, and his father, Spencer Lewis, was very enterprising and held several jobs to support his family, including working on the docks, cooking and later, starting his own business renovating homes. Expected by his parents and community to go to college, Lewis enrolled at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. Following his first year of college, Lewis spent the summer working for his uncle, a Philadelphia restaurant owner. Delivering food downtown, Lewis overheard businessmen talking about their deals, and he decided to pursue a career in business. Returning to school that fall, Lewis changed his major to accounting and earned his B.S. degree in 1963. Later, in 1968, he earned his M.B.A. degree from Iona College in New Rochelle, New York.

Lewis’ first major job was with General Foods Corporation as a sales analyst for the Kool-Aid division in New York. In 1966, he moved to W.R. Grace, a specialty chemical company, where he worked as a financial analyst. In 1967, Philip Morris hired Lewis as a corporate analyst, and the next year, he became a senior planning analyst. He was promoted to Manager of Industrial Relations in 1970, Manager of Financial Services in 1972 and Assistant Treasurer in 1973. In 1975, Lewis became Treasurer and Vice President of Financial & Planning for Philip Morris Industrial, a subsidiary company. In 1982, he moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he worked for a different subsidiary, the Seven-Up Company, as Vice President of Finance. After two years, Lewis returned to the parent company, Philip Morris Companies, Inc., as Vice President and Treasurer. At that time, one of the highest-ranking blacks in finance, he was in charge of Philip Morris’ worldwide treasury activities. He oversaw the company’s takeover of General Foods in 1985 and of Kraft in 1988. In 1997, Lewis became President and CEO of Philip Morris Capital Company, the finance and investment subsidiary of Philip Morris. He retired from this position in 2001.

Lewis has received numerous awards for his pioneering business achievements. Both Iona College and Hampton University have recognized him, and in 2000, he received a CNN Trumpet Tower of Power Award. In 2006, the Jackie Robinson Foundation honored him with a lifetime achievement award. He has served on the boards of several large corporations and organizations, including the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, where he became the board’s first black member in 1995.

George Lewis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 7, 2007.

See how George Lewis is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Lewis' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Lewis lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Lewis describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Lewis shares the history of Burgess, Virginia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Lewis describes his mother's activities and interests
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Lewis talks about his mother and maternal grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Lewis describes his father's professions
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George Lewis talks about his father's investments
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George Lewis describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George Lewis describes his father's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - George Lewis describes how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - George Lewis describes the community of Burgess, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Lewis talks about segregation in Burgess, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Lewis describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Lewis describes his home life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Lewis remembers the Shiloh Baptist Church in Reedville, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Lewis describes his childhood home
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Lewis recalls celebrating the holidays with his family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Lewis describes the sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Lewis remembers his elementary school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George Lewis describes his experiences at Julius Rosenwald High School in Reedville, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - George Lewis recalls his decision to attend the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - George Lewis remembers changing his major from medicine to accounting
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Lewis talks about his early business aspirations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Lewis describes the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on Corporate America
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Lewis recalls being hired by the General Foods Corporation
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Lewis describes his experiences at the General Foods Corporation
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Lewis remembers earning an M.B.A. degree
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Lewis recalls meeting his wife
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Lewis talks about working for W.R. Grace and Company
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George Lewis describes his career goals and responsibilities at W.R. Grace and Company
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - George Lewis recalls joining Philip Morris, Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Lewis talks about balancing his home life and career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Lewis recalls his experiences at Philip Morris Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Lewis describes his promotion to assistant treasurer at Philip Morris, Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George Lewis recalls his role as assistant treasurer of Philip Morris, Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George Lewis talks about the reputation of Philip Morris Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George Lewis talk about his career at Philip Morris, Inc.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George Lewis remembers learning to golf
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - George Lewis describes the country clubs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - George Lewis recalls cofounding MALCO, Inc. with Wayne Embry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - George Lewis recalls becoming the CFO of 7-Up in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George Lewis recalls becoming the treasurer of Philip Morris Inc.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George Lewis describes his colleagues at Philip Morris Inc.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George Lewis describes his responsibilities at Philip Morris Inc.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George Lewis recalls the racial discrimination at country clubs in New York City
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George Lewis talks about the integration of New York City's country clubs
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George Lewis recalls serving on the advisory board of the PGA of America
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George Lewis talks about the role of golf in the business community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - George Lewis recalls being promoted to CFO of the Philip Morris Capital Corporation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - George Lewis describes the Philip Morris Capital Corporation
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - George Lewis talks about the anti-smoking campaign against Philip Morris USA
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - George Lewis describes Philip Morris Inc.'s international brands
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - George Lewis reflects upon his retirement
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - George Lewis describes his board memberships
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - George Lewis talks about his retirement activities
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - George Lewis talks about his daughter's marriage to Spike Lee
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - George Lewis describes his family
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - George Lewis remembers his co-recipients of the CNN Trumpet Tower of Power Award
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - George Lewis talks about his Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jackie Robinson Foundation
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - George Lewis reflects upon the position of African Americans in Corporate America
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - George Lewis talks about notable African American business executives
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - George Lewis reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - George Lewis narrates his photographs