Longtime 84th Precinct Community Council president and Boerum Hill leader Leslie Lewis died on Thursday morning, according to local leaders. He was 90.
Lewis — who has served as president of the police advisory council since 1993 — passed away at Methodist Hospital, according to friends, although none knew exactly how he died as of publishing.
Born and raised in the Bronx, Lewis first moved to Boerum Hill in 1982 and bought a home with his second wife Miriam between the Gowanus Houses and Wyckoff Gardens public housing estates, and got involved with the community council after becoming concerned with heavy crime in the area, according to a Brooklyn Eagle report.
As president of the council, Lewis moderated monthly meetings in which residents of the 84th Precinct — Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Downtown, Dumbo, and Vingar Hill — have the floor to ask cops about issues in their community, and he had a real talent for bringing together officers and civilians, according to one community leader.
“He was a character and I mean that in the best sense of the word,” said Community Board 2 district manager Rob Perris. “He was very instrumental in making the link between the community and local police precinct.”
Having dealt with the repercussions of smoking earlier in life, Lewis always encouraged attendees at his meetings to help other smokers kick the habit, printing a message to remind people to ditch the butts at the bottom of each agenda, Perris added.
Lewis’s life before Brooklyn was no less remarkable.
He served as a corporal in the Army in World War II, and later worked for the Greyhound Exposition Company for 30 years, creating the American exhibits for the 1964 New York World’s Fair and Expo 67 in Montreal, as well as U.S.–Soviet Union cultural exchange exhibitions for the federal government.
Then-President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev had their famous “Kitchen Debate” in a model suburban American kitchen in one of these exhibits.
Lewis also pitched the “Job Power” program to Nixon in 1969, which matched up employers with underemployed minorities — a concept that paved the way for the modern day job fair.
In 2011, Rep. Ed Towns paid tribute to Lewis for these achievements before Congress.
In addition to his work with the 84th Precinct, Lewis also volunteered as a public safety liason with the Borough President’s office, serving as a mediator between the Beep, the District Attorney’s office, and some 2.5 million Brooklynites, and Borough President Adams on Thursday applauded Lewis’s lifelong commitment to making Brooklyn safer.
“Long before advancing community-police relations was a citywide and nationwide focus, Leslie Lewis was standing on our borough’s street corners side-by-side with New York’s Finest and helping to make Brooklyn a safer and more harmonious place to raise healthy children and families,” said Adams.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been set.