SALT LAKE CITY — A longtime member of the Utah Jazz family took his last breath on Saturday.
Dedicated team chaplain Jerry Lewis died earlier this afternoon around 1:30 p.m. in St. George from health complications, according to Jazz play-by-play announcer Craig Bolerjack.
His wife, Jean, also confirmed the news to the Deseret News. He was 80 years old.
Lewis spent more than three decades working with the Jazz, gathering chapel attendees for short sermons, spiritual guidance and prayer circles.
He also served as a minister for The Point Christian Church in Sandy and the Southeast Christian Church in Holladay.
“He loved the Lord and he wanted to share that love and that passion with the players and help them through any problems that they might want to share with him,” Jean Lewis said. “They always said a prayer with him when they had a chapel and he always tried to keep it private for them and never divulge anything that they didn’t want divulged and they could call him at any time.”
His chapel sessions first started with former Jazzman Mark Eaton, but he’s worked with other franchise stars such as Karl Malone, John Stockton, Thurl Bailey, Deron Williams, Pete Maravich and Gordon Hayward.
Lewis even performed marriage ceremonies for the Malone family, the Eatons and former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, plus baptism services for countless others in the area, including the Bolerjacks.
“I got to know him because he baptized my family as a pastor at Southeast Christian Church, so he will always hold a very special place in my heart,” Bolerjack said. “I just always from afar, admired his dedication and courage. It didn’t matter the skin color, he just wanted people to come together and reflect in prayer before games. He really brought a lot of people from different avenues of life together to share a moment.”
Lewis leaves, to cherish his memories, his wife, Jean, four children and nine grandchildren. They were married for 57 years.
“He absolutely loved the Jazz,” Jean Lewis said. “And all the people and the players. He just couldn’t get enough of it, and Gail Miller was wonderful to him every time. It was a non-paying kind of job, but he got tickets to see all the games and he didn’t miss very many of them.”
There won’t be a personal homegoing service ceremony set for Lewis because he did not wish to have one. Instead, he will be cremated to honor his wishes.
“The reason for that being, which a lot of people don’t understand, is that he felt he helped and loved a lot of people and a lot of people helped and loved him, so he felt like that should stand for something,” Jean Lewis said. “So he didn’t want a service.”