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Memorial service Thursday for Sports Editor Claude Lewis

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By The Staff

The Chiefland Citizen mourns the sudden death of its sports editor Claude Lewis.

Lewis, 54, died Friday night while en route to an Indian football game in Jasper.

According to the Suwannee County Sheriff's Department, a motorist saw Lewis pull to the side of the road, attempting to use an inhaler. Lewis had a history of asthma, according to his wife.

By the time paramedics arrived, he was dead on the scene.

Visitation will be Wednesday, Sept. 24 from 7-9 p.m. at Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services, Chiefland. Local funeral services will be held Thursday, Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. in the funeral home chapel. The family asks that friends be in casual dress–"The Claude Way" if attending.

A memorial service will be held later in Port Charlotte.

He was born June 14, 1954 in Trenton, N.J., to Helen Martin Lewis Saidt and the late John David Lewis.

He was a graduate of Bordentown Regional High School and attended Burlington County College.

He was a newspaper reporter and got his start in the business at the Trentonian, where he wrote about sports and music.

He married Michelle Balbier June 27, 1987. The couple moved to Florida shortly after.

He then worked as the publicist for the Charlotte County Speedway in Punta Gorda before joining the Charlotte Sun Herald and later the Venice Gondolier Sun, where he was the sports editor.

He moved to Levy County in November 2006 and joined the Chiefland Citizen in April 2007 as a sports writer. He was promoted to the newspaper’s sports editor position in March.

He also covered education news, the town of Bronson and outdoor events.

He enjoyed writing about the beauty of North Central Florida and this summer did a two-part series on the area's fresh water springs.

Survivors include wife Michelle of Chiefland; mother Helen Lewis Saidt of Port Charlotte; brother John (Diann Balbier) Lewis of Littleton, Colo.; aunt Mary Hope Lewis of Hemet, Calif.; his beloved dachshunds Boris, Natasha, Flyer and Lincoln; and a host of friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Friends of Manatee Springs Parks, Inc.,11650 NW 115th St., Chiefland, FL 32626 or Chiefland Area Athletic Association. P.O. Box 1844, Chiefland, FL 32644.

Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services, Chiefland is in charge of arrangements.

If you have questions, feel free to email editor Carolyn Risner at editor@chieflandcitizen.com.

Below this story is a space available for comments. We ask that you take advantage of this and leave Claude Lewis' remembrances as tributes to him, his life and his work.