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Jo Andrea Lewis


Jo Andrea (Fetter) Lewis 

Small in stature but giant in spirit, Jo Andrea (Fetter) Lewis had a big laugh – and a bigger heart that cherished family, friends and students. There’s an empty seat at our table today, and one fewer smile and loud laugh after Jo died peacefully in her sleep in her Grand Rapids home on Monday, May 8, following a brief illness.

Jo was born in 1948 to Richard and Carol Fetter, who raised her and her brother, Richard, in Bay City. She graduated from T.L. Handy High School where she was a cheerleader before studying education at Michigan State University. It was there she met a kindred spirit and the love of her life, Gordon Lewis. The couple always celebrated the anniversary of their first date: February 9, talking for hours over a bottomless cup of coffee at Howard Johnson’s. Gord knew their wedding was inevitable after that first snowy night of conversation.

The diehard Spartan followed her husband to Ann Arbor, where he attended law school – but never warmed to the rival city. Jo began her career teaching second grade in the Whitmore Lake School District and serving as the cheerleading coach for the high school and a union negotiator. The couple moved to Grand Rapids in 1974 after Gord accepted a position with Warner Norcross + Judd that would begin five decades of building community, raising a family and enjoying a life together.

Jo continued teaching after the move to West Michigan, this time third grade in Grandville. She spent decades in the classroom as a teacher, substitute and finally a volunteer reading coach. A passionate educator, Jo loved her students – and loved helping them unlock the mysteries of reading and exploring the world through books. She spent countless hours making flash cards and worksheets, taking delight in the rapid advancement her students made in reading under her tutelage – and cherishing the school pictures that lined her desk for decades.

An avid bridge player, Jo joined seven other women in 1974 in the Young Law Wives Bridge Club. They quit playing cards 30 years ago to make time for fun, remaining constants in one another’s lives through weekly get-togethers to this day. The family so appreciates the care and support from the bridge club in Jo’s final weeks of life.

Jo and Gord enjoyed golfing together in the early years and entertaining throughout their five decades of marriage. The parties and dinners they threw were legendary, blending tuxedoes and togas and so many things in between. As a hostess, Jo was always engaging, gracious and fun – and a stickler for proper table manners. She took great pains to make sure everyone was included when they were around her table or in her home. It was important to her to make sure all felt welcome and no one was left out. The couple loved their time with friends and family in Irons, Michigan, where Jo outlasted everyone at the firepit, and in Harbor Ridge, Florida, where they made their winter home for many years.

Jo adored being a mother. Daughters Kate and Anne knew her as their biggest fan throughout their entire lives. Whether it was a swim meet or choir concert, Jo was always there – and always proud of their accomplishments. She and Gord treasured the tradition of Sunday suppers with Kate and Anne for many years. Jo loved hearing the amazing things her nieces, nephews and grandchildren were accomplishing, always asking friends to share stories of their loved ones, too.

To know Jo was to love her. A brilliant smile, clever wit and a contagious laugh, she moved through life with a twinkle that charmed everyone. One of her favorite things was to sit with friends, enjoy a Jack Daniels on the rocks and talk. You always had Jo’s undivided attention during those conversations – and she always wanted to know about your family and friends. Jo had a tremendous memory and would remember names and details of stories long after others would forget. She followed up and asked questions, showing genuine care. Many of the Warner wives recall Jo for how open and welcoming she was and how helpful she was in making them feel a part of the firm.

Fiercely loyal, when Jo loved you, there was nothing she wouldn’t do for you. No one cheered louder at basketball or football games than Jo did for her treasured Spartans. Even in a state filled with MSU basketball fans, the noise level just got much quieter.

Jo spent more than two decades as a volunteer for the Steketee Guild, which later became the Blodgett Hospital Guild. She helped raise countless funds to help the medical mission of the hospital. A lifelong reader, she enjoyed books and word puzzles.

Jo was preceded in death by her parents and her in-laws, Walter and Elizanne Lewis. She is survived by her husband, Gordon, daughters, Kate (Matt DeWitte) and Anne, and grandchildren, Isaac, Kaylee and Abbie DeWitte. Jo is also survived by her beloved brother, Richard Fetter (Jill Rank), brother-in-law Steven Lewis (Pat) and sister-in-law Jacki Lewis Adduci (Richard), as well as nieces and nephews Andrea (Kris) VanRipper, Abby (Phil) Fauble, Alex Adduci, Jason (Genny) Lewis and Matthew (Liz) Lewis. She is missed dearly by her cats, Sam and Boo.

A private reception will be held for the family at a later date. If you would like to honor your relationship to Jo, toast her with a glass of Jack and make a memorial donation to Faith Hospice, whose team cared for her lovingly and wrapped the family in support during Jo’s final days.

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3 Responses

  1. I would like to extend my deepest sympathy Ann, she will forever live in your heart.

  2. Dear Kate, Matt and Anne:
    I know the last year or so has been quite a challenge for all of you and your dad, and you all did everything you could to make your mom feel safe and be healthy. You adored her as much as she adored you! Please know that we will keep all of you—and especially your dad—in our thoughts and prayers. May God’s grace and peace, which surpasses all understanding, guide and comfort you, and may that grace along with the passage of time help to soften the sharp edges of your grief. With love—Kathleen, John snd family

  3. To the extended Lewis family – you are in our thoughts and prayers.
    Warm regards,
    Clay, Laura, and Zachary West

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