It is with deep regret we inform you that Carroll “Curly” Lewis, Jr., Commanding General of the Texas Army, left this world January 7, 2010.
Born February 3, 1924 in Houston, Texas, he was known at an early age as the Poet Laureate of Poe Elementary School. This was not the end of his literary career for he late wrote numerous magazine and newspaper articles, a definitive history of Fort Anahuac (The Birthplace of the Texas Revolution), enjoyed the fifth printing of his popular book The Treasures of Galveston Bay and is included in the American Diaries of WWII. Also excelling in art, when attending Lanier Junior High School, he won a four year art scholarship at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. At Lamar Senior High School he formed his own twelve-piece dance band and was the founding president of the MAC (Make Actions Count) Club-a quasi fraternity. While studying chemical engineering at Rice Institute, he continued his musical activities with the Rice Band and the Knight Owls dance orchestra.
When World War II interrupted, he flew twenty five missions as a B-17 bomber pilot in the Eighth Air force; being shot down twice over Nazi Germany. Returning to Rice he was founding president of the Rice Veteran’s Association, Student Council chairman, re-organized and led the Knight Owls dance orchestra, and was president of the Rice Owl band where his outrageous innovations created a spirit that was thereafter adopted by the MOB (Marching Owl Band).
There is a legend at Rice University, that one Friday afternoon, before a Rice / A & M football game, Lewis secretly flew an airplane from Houston to College Station and dropped a large stink bomb and one hundred pounds of rice on an Aggie pep rally. The 1947 Rice yearbook shows photos of the mission.
Before graduating from college he began investing in land; eventually developing the following subdivisions in the Houston Area of Memorial Estates, Shady Oaks, Karankawa Pines, Richmond Road Farms, Shamrock Estates, Battleground Vista, Belknap Acres, Braeburn Gardens, Pinegrove Valley, Lomax Gardens, Greendale, Richmond Road Estates, Skyview Farms, Captains Retreat, Pirate’s Grove and Battleground Estate.
A former Eagle Scout, he served as scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop II Airscouts and Girl Scout Troop 116 and as a council director of Sam Houston Area Boy Scouts of America and the San Jacinto area Girl Scouts of America. He was a Sunday School teacher, officer and choir member of the First Presbyterian Church of Houston, West Isle Presbyterian Church of Galveston, and the United Church of Idaho Springs, Colorado, and chairman of the Greater Houston Presbyterian Extension Committee of the Brazos Presbytery. A 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason- he played in the Arabia Temple Shrine Drum and Bugle Corps. Band. Early in his life he served on the Board of Directors of the YMCA camps.
A business degree from the University of Houston guided him to other interests such a building and operating the Post Oak Twin Drive-in Theater, a Giant Slide, and Movieland Golf- a 36-hole miniature golf course where each hole represented a famous movie.
He was president of the Southwestern Historical Exploration Society and in 1968 directed its recovery of many Civil War artifacts out of Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston. Leading another expedition in 1968 he discovered Puritan Pilgrim fortifications on the Caribbean Islands of Santa Catalina that had been lost from history for over three hundred years. He wrote many articles for True West, Treasure World, and Treasure magazines, and had a weekly shooting sports column for the Citizen newspapers.
In 1969, he convinced Governor Preston Smith to reactivate the Texas Army, which had been inactive since 1845, and was appointed Commanding General in which capacity he served for 40 years. He was well known for his impersonation of General Sam Houston on television, the news media and at public events. Curly was dedicated to perpetuating the memory of early Texas heroes; as one journalist put it: “The General keeps Texas’ past alive!”
A consummate hunter, fisherman and sailor, his large Texas flag mainsail was frequently seen on Galveston Bay. Curly loved Texas and all things Texan. Since retirement, he enjoyed monthly meetings with his Lamar ’41 classmates and singing and playing drums every Wednesday night with the jazz group known as the Over The Hill Gang.
He is survived by his wife Candace Frazier Lewis, daughter Marsha Blake, grandchildren Travis Hedemann, Holly Hedemann Ross, and great grandchildren Jordan and Sawyer Ross.
On January 20, 2010, a public ceremony of remembrances and celebration of the General’s life was conducted by the General Staff of the Texas Army at the San Jacinto Monument (Auditorium). Dressed in 1836 attire, the Texas Army performed full military honors; firing a 21-gun salute using cannon and flintlock rifles. The United States Air Force Funeral Detail also fired a salute and executed its flag presentation ceremony. Officiating Minister was Rev. Joe Hause and Rev. John W. Lancaster closed with the benediction.
The Family has requested donations to the Texas Army War Chest in lieu of flowers. For information please email Col. John Martin at [email protected]