Randall Lewis of Keese Mills Road, Paul Smiths, died peacefully in her home surrounded by loved ones on June 18, 2014.
Randy was born on July 31, 1950, in Buffalo to Richard David and Rosemary (Brownjohn) Lewis. She is survived by her husband of 35 years, Neil Surprenant, and three sons: Nathan Surprenant of Portland, Oregon, Daniel Surprenant and his wife Antonela, and Colin Surprenant, both of New York City. She is also survived by her brothers Michael Lewis of Potsdam, Jeffrey Lewis and Christopher Lewis of Deansboro and Jonathan Lewis of Westmoreland, and a sister, Nancy Peck of Oriskany Falls. Many nieces and nephews also survive.
Randy was a well-known writer of poetry, fiction and essays. Her column about the day-to-day living experiences in the Adirondacks, “Actively Adirondack,” appeared in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise for many years. Her poetry was published in Blueline, Many Moons, The Mud Creek Literary Review, The Northern New Yorker, The Paterson Literary Review and other publications. She, along with three other poets, was featured in the 2006 book “A North Country Quartet,” which was published by the Potsdam College Press in 2006. Randy’s essays, film reviews and features appeared in Adirondack Life, The Sequel, The Lake Placid News and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Randy often gave poetry readings in the area and was the leader of a local writers’ group, Pen and Parchment, for many years, fostering many fellow writers who have gone on to their own publications and writing projects. From 2000 to 2001 she was a script writer and researcher for the National Public Radio show, “A Writer’s Almanac.” She also chose the poems read by the host, Garrison Keillor.
Randy’s book of essays, also titled “Actively Adirondack,” was chosen by the Adirondack Center for Writing for the People’s Choice award as the Best Book of 2007.
In addition to her work as a writer, Randy spent time as a copy editor for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Since 2002 Randy worked as a teacher and tutor at North Country Community College. She taught basic writing, creative writing and developmental math classes. She helped many students outside of class in the college learning center as a tutor. Her students and tutees remember her ability to help them find their path through the rigors of higher education in spite of the many obstacles adult and nontraditional students find themselves in.
Until recently, Randy presented writing workshops for the nonprofit organization Creative Healing Connections. This organization provides creative outlets and retreats for women whose lives have been compromised by poor health or the effects of active-duty military service in war zones. She also served on this organization’s board of directors for four years.
Among her many varied interests are the experiences she has shared with life lived in the Adirondacks as well as her many travels to New York City and the Pacific Northwest, the two places she was most passionate about. She was passionate, too, about her children, her love of food, train travel, her cats, the birds she watched and fed every day, and her devoted husband Neil. She was an avid walker, walking most days into the woods for some spiritual time surrounded by the trees she loved so much.
Randy Lewis has been blessed over the years to live in a nurturing and loving community of friends. During her final year, friends brought food and gifts on a regular basis, bringing her much joy and social life during some rough times. The center of her community was Keese Mills Road, but many acts of kindness were offered from outside this core also. Snow shoveling, lawn mowing, apple picking and driving to any number of appointments in any season were offered by her friends from throughout the area. Every person who stopped by, every person who sent a card or pot of soup, was appreciated deeply and sincerely. Specific names are not important. We all know who we are. The community is tight knit and holds folks here and already passed on. We are a part of the story of the gifts of nature, friendship and the St. Regis River that so many have been nurtured by.
A celebration of the life of Randy Lewis will take place sometime in the next few weeks. Watch this paper or touch base with her family or friends for a date and place. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Creative Healing Connections (www.creativehealingconnections.org) for the Randy Lewis Scholarship Fund that is being set up so that more women will be able to take advantage of the wonderful services offered by Creative Healing Connections.