July 07, 2021

It is with unbearable sadness and broken hearts that my sister and I, with God’s Grace, must announce the passing of our beloved Father, Ira Joe (I.J.) Lewis.

That beautiful smile and Kind Heart left this world on June 3, 2021 only 3 days from his 83rd Birthday. He passed in Florida, with his girls, but his wish was always to be laid to rest in Virginia.

Daddy grew up in Wise, Virginia on an apple orchard in “The Hurricane”. Basketball was his passion and while playing on an independent league in Wise, he was recruited by Itawamba Jr. College in Mississippi. This is where he met our mother, Myra. His IJC Team went on to become “The Team of The Century” and his team was later inducted into IJC’s Basketball Hall of Fame. He received a full scholarship to Pikeville College and moved back “home” as he said, to the magnificent mountains of Virginia. He and Myra soon moved to Pikeville, where he attended Pikeville College, received his BA in Education, and played Basketball. He was also inducted into the Pikeville College Basketball Hall of Fame. He was offered semi-pro contracts, but did not want to leave the home he loved so much.

Dad coached basketball at Coeburn High School and lead the team there to 5 consecutive State Championships. After 10 years at CHS, he moved into the Coal Business and although his heart never left the game, he never looked back.

If you ever met our father, you share our grief. He could light up a room and draw a crowd like no one I have ever known. He loved life and loved living life. He truly never met a stranger and once you met, he was your friend. His presence was felt by everyone who ever knew him and the minute you met; you knew he was special. We were loved and cherished from the day we were born and we always knew it. Our Daddy loved us and we loved him so very much. Our pain is fresh and raw, but we know that we share that pain with so many.

He was preceded in death by his sisters, Ruby Jeanette Mullins, Mary Nell (Sissy) Lewis, and Goldie Kelley; and his parents, Thomas E. (Tebo) Lewis and Florence E. Lewis.

A Life truly lived and A Spirit Never Forgotten.

I.J. Lewis leaves behind his daughters; Elizabeth Lewis-Thompson and her husband, Malcom of St. Cloud, FL, and Amy Lewis-Milliken and her husband Eric of Tavares, FL.; grandson, Gage Allen Carpenter of Tavares, FL.; his brother Franklin Emmitt Lewis of Saltville, VA.; many cousins, nephews, nieces and extended family.

Memorial Services for I.J. Lewis will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 10 at the Sturgill Funeral Home chapel in Wise. Family will receive friends from 12 p.m. until time of services. Burial will follow. Please visit to leave online condolences for the family.

Sturgill Funeral Home, 1621 Norton Road SW Wise, is in charge of arrangements.