The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast of the United States in late August of 2005 causing widespread and grisly damage. During the recovery from that disaster, George (Buck) Lewis III gained his first experience as a volunteer for the American Red Cross.
Many residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina were evacuated to Memphis, Tennessee, necessitating the establishment of temporary-housing shelters by the Red Cross. A significant number of those displaced to Memphis had legal issues as a result of the hurricane, so a tent was set up at the Mid-South Fairgrounds to serve as a temporary legal-assistance office. Lewis was instrumental in setting up this office, staffing, and serving as part of a pro bono legal team to assist with the needs of Katrina-affected persons.
Lewis’ first experience volunteering with the Red Cross made a strong, positive impression. So much so, that when David Elliot, then Chair of the Mid-South Chapter’s Advisory Board, called to invite Lewis to join the Board, he was positively inclined, even though he was also serving as President of the Tennessee Bar Association, a position that took up much of his available time.
Today, Lewis serves as Chair for the Mid-South Chapter Advisory Board, a position he has held since July 2012. He is very proud of the accomplishments of the Mid-South Chapter during his board service. “We now have better press coverage and a higher visibility within the charitable giving community of the city and within the community as a whole, where the Mid-South Chapter is seen working on a daily basis,” said Lewis. He notes the success of the Red Boa Ball, the major yearly fund-raising activity for the chapter, which continues to grow each year. The fourth annual gala on November 16 is expected to be even larger than previous years.
Finding a new physical location for the chapter offices is another success noted by Lewis. “It’s been a long road,” said Lewis. The long effort is about to come to fruition with the pending purchase and renovation of what will be a new headquarters building for the Mid-South Chapter.
A Memphis native, Lewis refers to himself as a “private school brat,” having attended Presbyterian Day School and Memphis University School. College was seven years at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where he obtained a B.S. degree in Business Administration, an M.B.A. degree with a concentration in finance, and a J.D. degree.
Today, Lewis serves as a Visiting Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, where he teaches a leadership class that is intended to provide law-school graduates a bridge from law school to private practice.
An attorney, shareholder in the Memphis Office, and Chair of the Appellate Practice litigation group of the law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, Lewis has had a highly distinguished legal career (for his complete legal biography click here) and continues a long history of pro bono legal work. He has served as the President of the Memphis Bar Foundation and the Tennessee Bar Association. The Tennessee Judicial Selection Committee has recommended him to the Governor for appointment to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Most recently, Lewis was awarded a 2013 Presidential Citation from the American Bar Association for his leadership in developing programs “to bring much needed legal services to Tennesseans of lesser means.”
Lewis attributes much of his success to his wife Malinda. “I am so fortunate to have Malinda, who gives her support to everything we do, from the Red Cross, to the University of Tennessee, to our pro bono work. She is a fabulous full partner,” concluded Lewis.
Story posted August 20, 2013
Photo and story credit: Robert W. Wallace/American Red Cross