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Colleagues and officials remember Erwin mayor Don ‘Brushy’ Lewis for his work on Veterans Memorial Park, downtown

Don “Brushy” Lewis

By Richard Rourk

Former Town of Erwin Mayor Don “Brushy” Lewis, who died Thursday, Sept. 16, at Johnson City Medical Center after a brief illness, is being remembered as a “people person” by town officials and former colleagues. 

Lewis, 81, served as an alderman and then mayor for the Town of Erwin for two consecutive terms spanning from 2004 until 2012.

Contacted by The Erwin Record, current Mayor Glenn White reflected on his memories of Lewis. 

“I first met Brushy Lewis when he would umpire our baseball games when I was a kid,” White said. “He was a sweet man and was always so good and decent to everyone.”

White added, “He loved people and prided himself on being a people person. He never seemed to feel he was above anyone.”

White also remembered Lewis as being a man of faith and a loving family man. 

“I always enjoyed talking with him,” White said. “I always admired him and his family. I admired Joey and Vicki for how they took care of their father. I’m a man of faith, and I know without a doubt, that Brushy’s in heaven.”

Former Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley said that she remembers Lewis as a pioneer in preserving downtown Erwin. 

“I was city recorder when Brushy was vice mayor,” she said. “He was always very conscientious about what was going on in town. He always put a lot of thought into decisions when it came to Erwin.”

He left Hensley a solid legacy as she began her tenure as mayor.

“When I took over as mayor, the city was in good financial condition,” she noted. “He had already started the revitalization of downtown. I can only compliment Brushy on his leadership.”

Former Unicoi County Veterans Service Officer Bill Hensley recalled Lewis’s contributions to Veterans Memorial Park in Erwin. 

“He was instrumental in bringing that park together,” Bill Hensley said. “He paid money out of his own pocket to get that park done. He would bring the inmates that worked on the park food from the Dari-Ace. That’s just the type of man he was.”

A 1958 graduate of Unicoi County High School, Lewis joined the U.S. Army Reserves and enjoyed a 43-year career at Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin. 

Valley Funeral Home in Erwin is handling funeral arrangements. Please visit to view Lewis’ obituary.