Goldy Lewis, who together with her late husband, Ralph, established one of the nation’s most successful and respected home-building companies, died March 14. She was 84.
Longtime friends and benefactors of the university, the Lewises directed their most significant gift toward the construction of Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall, the flagship facility of the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development.
“Goldy Lewis left an indelible imprint on the School of Policy, Planning, and Development and on the lives of all who knew her,” said Jack H. Knott, SPPD’s C. Erwin and Ione L. Piper Dean and Professor. “We will continue to benefit from her vision, leadership and generosity for many years to come.”
As co-founders of Lewis Homes, the Lewises helped transform the Southern California landscape by building more than 60,000 high-quality suburban homes and apartments, as well as commercial buildings, shopping centers and industrial parks in California, Nevada and Utah.
Homes, not housing, were Goldy Lewis’ passion. As the company’s executive vice president, she actively supervised design, estimating and purchasing. She ensured that each unit they built was equipped with the amenities, such as well-appointed kitchens and large closets, that help real families live well and comfortably.
“Goldy’s legacy is to remind us that, in spite of all the activity and energy required for success, good development always returns to the personal �personal experiences, personal tastes and average day-to-day living,” said SPPD associate professor Raphael Bostic, director of the school’s Master of Real Estate Development program. “She brought the human touch to Lewis Homes and, by extension, to a generation of Southern Californians.”
The Lewises’ vision and commitment to excellence was recognized by their peers and colleagues many times.
In 1963, they received the First Award of Distinction from American Builder Magazine, and in 1987, Goldy Lewis became the first woman ever to be named “Builder of the Year” by Professional Builder magazine, an honor she shared with her husband. In 1999, the Los Angeles chapter of the Building Industry Association honored the couple as “Builders of the Century.”
The Lewises first became involved with the previous USC School of Urban and Regional Planning in 1985, when Ralph Lewis joined the Board of Councilors and played a prominent role in the creation of both an undergraduate degree and the Master of Real Estate Development degree program. As in everything Ralph Lewis did professionally and philanthropically, Goldy Lewis contributed her ideas and expertise.
“Ralph and Goldy Lewis stepped forward bravely and showed a faith in USC’s future that inspired others,” said Alan Kreditor, USC senior vice president for university advancement. “Goldy was far ahead of her time. For more than a half century she served as wife, mother and business partner with unparalleled skill and devotion.”
Born in Manitoba, Canada, in 1921, Goldy Lewis came to the United States in 1923 and 12 years later became a naturalized citizen. A graduate of UCLA, Mrs. Lewis did postgraduate work at USC in the 1940s. She served as an accountant in her husband’s CPA practice from 1945 to 1957 and as office manager in his law practice from 1953-55. The Lewises entered the home building and real estate development business in Claremont in 1955.
Although they sold Lewis Homes to Kaufman & Broad in 1999, the Lewises’ four sons � Richard, Robert, Roger and Randall � today run the Lewis group of companies, a real estate organization involved in master-planned community developments, apartments and retail developments in California and Nevada.
Ralph and Goldy Lewis’ son Randall serves on the SPPD Board of Councilors, and their grandson David, an SPPD alumnus, is a member of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate board of directors. Their granddaughter Jennifer is also an SPPD alumna.
Goldy Lewis is survived by her four sons and eight grandchildren.
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