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CHAMPAIGN — Heaven got a little bit rowdier recently when Jim Lewis of Urbana passed.

James McDermut Lewis was found at home on June 30, 2021, at the front door with his car key in his hand. His journey was further than his car was going to take him.

He was greeted in heaven by his mother, LaVerne Lewis; father, Dan Lewis; brother, Dan Lewis; and nephew, Chuck Lewis. They are all certainly discussing yesterday’s game.

Jim was born on Dec. 12, 1951, in Concord, Calif. The family moved around the country many times before settling in Champaign. He completed his education there, Bottenfield Elementary, Edison Junior High, Champaign Central High School (1970) and the University of Illinois, B.A. in physical education (1974) and M.S. in computer science (1982).

For a brief time in the 1980s, he had a pilot license. Jim was an Eagle Scout. He participated in group sports throughout his life. He took great pride in learning to deliver an onside kick for the high school football team. He made the special team at the UI freshman squad as the place kicker. He continued playing on sports squads and found an affinity for rugby. He participated in rugby games for years and in socializing with the rugby club for even longer. He also took a turn coaching the women’s rugby team.

Jim worked at CERL developing software for projects for the Army Corps of Engineers. He also developed a software called L-Zap designed to help people figure out how to pay off loans early.

Jim loved to cook. He enjoyed throwing parties and serving his signature gourmet chili. He loved recreating meals he had enjoyed at high-end restaurants, or from his travels around the country and abroad. He also enjoyed escorting his mother to his father’s annual ship reunions, the USS McDermut, for which he was named.

Jim was a raconteur. His stories would wind around to the point where you thought he was lost, but in the end, every detail counted. He was always ready with a movie reference, or a joke with the aim to make someone laugh. He could chat with just about everyone. He was colorful and one of a kind.

No man has had truer friends than Bill Campo of Urbana-Champaign and Joe Mitchell of Springfield.

The last 16 years of his life revolved around health issues. His family, sisters Carolyn Smith (Steve) of Arizona, Mary Anne Silvestri (Tony) of California and unofficial brother Daniel Yohannes and sister Lily Yohannes of North Carolina, and numerous nieces and nephews, want to express the deepest gratitude to Carle Foundation Hospital for treating his physical issues while dealing with his struggles to communicate after his stroke. The UI Speech and Hearing Clinic was also helpful in Jim regaining a lot of his speech. A special thanks to the cancer team at Carle for their attention to detail in working with him these last few years. Their care went well beyond physical medicine.

In lieu of flowers or charity donations, meet up with a friend to watch a Cubbies game, grab a slice and toss back a cold one, stand up and yell at a bad call, find something in common with a stranger, make someone laugh.

Cremation rites have been accorded by Illiana Cremation Society. Condolences may be sent to the family at James’ everlasting memorial page at

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