In the simple brick church his grandfather helped found and where he served faithfully for all his 79 years, a full house of about 200 on North Main Street in McDonald, Pa., celebrated Tuesday the life of Marvin Lewis Sr.
Lewis, the father of Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, died after a lengthy illness last week. Bengals president Mike Brown led a contingent of staffers to the service at the First Baptist Church, including all three of Lewis’ coordinators, Hue Jackson on offense, Paul Guenther on defense, and Darrin Simmons on special teams, as well as coaching assistants Sandy Schick and Jamie Janette.
Also in attendance were Lewis’ lifelong friends, Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes and tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes. The Hayes’ brothers, who grew up in nearby Bridgeville, are also descended from the church’s founders.
Eulogized by the pastor, the Rev. Barry D. Givner, as well as his three children, Lewis Sr. was remembered as a devoted father and grandfather whose passion was attending their sports events, as well as a resourceful handyman and mechanic who couldn’t stay put after finishing his 31-year career at Shenango Steel as a foundry foreman. His children revealed Tuesday they saw him do every household chore but ironing.
Lewis, along with his wife of 56 years, Vanetta, was fiercely proud of his children’s accomplishments. There was no bigger Bengals fan in the heart of Steelers country. Givner touched on Lewis’ humility throughout his eulogy and the pastor admitted he would always kid with him about how fine his Sunday best clothes were, right down to his tie. In fact, Givner would sometimes ask Lewis if he could borrow one of his ties.
“He must have thought I needed some help with my wardrobe because once he gave me a Bengals hat signed by their head coach with their rallying cry. Who-Dey,” Givner said.