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Obituary: Robert Lewis

Robert Lewis, founding partner of the labor and employment law firm Jackson Lewis, LLP, died peacefully on Feb. 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, following complications from pneumonia at the age of 88. He was a long term resident of Great Neck and an active member for many years of the Nassau County Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Committee. Born in Brooklyn on Jan. 2, 1924, even his earliest baby pictures reveal Bob’s quintessential grin. He met his wife Ethel Padnick as a teenager, and after several years of courtship, from which the family still holds his elegant letters, the couple embarked on what would become nearly 65 years of marriage. He enlisted in the Army shortly after graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1942. It was his time stationed in Italy as a secretary for the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate that sparked two of his lifelong interests: law and archaeology. He enrolled in Brooklyn Law School on the G.I. bill and married Ethel in 1947.

In the years to follow, his career and family grew. His daughters, Eileen and Nancy were born, as was the law firm to which he would dedicate the next 50 years of his life to building. Alongside management consultant Louis Jackson, he formed the firm now known as Jackson Lewis, one of the nation’s leading firms specializing in labor and employment law. In his career Bob was known for his scholarly interest, his mentorship of younger attorneys, and his firm’s commitment to ethical practice. He co-authored the book Winning NLRB Elections, now in its fourth printing, and argued before the Supreme Court in 1968 in Food Employees Union v. Logan Valley Plaza, Inc.

In addition to an illustrious law career, Bob pursued many passions throughout his life. He was an avid tennis player, and frequented the museums, ballets, theaters, and libraries across New York. A lifetime of travel took Bob and Ethel around the world, including trips to Israel, Tunisia, China, Morocco and Cuba. Yet his family and friends remember him best for the simpler joys that accompanied his intellect - his lifelong commitment to reading The New York Times; his endearing love for Chinese food and ice cream (eaten separately); his passion for Civil War history and presidential biographies; and his unending good humor and dedication to his family.

He is survived by his wife Ethel, his daughters, Eileen and Nancy, and his grandchildren, Carolyn and Alison Silveira and Matthew Lewis.