CBC’s Ben Waters Speaks of Lost Legend J.D. Lewis
On Saturday, February 24, 2007, CBC legend J.D. Lewis was laid to rest. Former long-time CBC employee Ben Waters, a past WRAL-TV News Director and Corporate Community Relations Vice President among other titles, gave a moving tribute at Lewis’ funeral. Capcom would like to share his words with our readers.
J.D. Lewis, a hero, a legend and a friend.
A Tribute to J. D. Lewis by Ben Waters
J. D. reported to me during the last 15 years of his employment at Capitol Broadcasting Company. It is quite easy for me to say that I learned more from J. D. than he learned from me.
J. D. was well educated, well liked, well respected, and articulate. He cared about people and their problems. He wanted to fix things. He was always for the underdog.
Many a time he came to me suggesting that the company contribute money to this cause or that one. It was hard to turn him down. Most of the time I approved his recommendations.
The longer we worked together, the more I came to respect the things he stood for.
There are many people at Capitol Broadcasting Company today who are there because they stood on J. D.’s shoulders. And his were strong shoulders.
In his lifetime, J. D. Lewis had many firsts…first in this, first in that…almost too many to mention. I think beside his service in the Marine Corps, he was perhaps most proud of his family. And, being the first black man on radio in North Carolina.
He was hired by Fred Fletcher to be an announcer at WRAL-AM way back in 1948. He was a trailblazer in more ways than one. I think he was also proud of the many television programs in which he was involved, including Teenage Frolics.
In lieu of a traditional retirement gift, Capitol Broadcasting Company joined with the A. J. Fletcher Foundation to make a contribution to the Garner Road YMCA. It was used to make a needed addition. We’re very proud that it is called the J. D. Lewis Multipurpose Center. And after the service and internment, everyone is invited the Center for food and refreshments.
J. D.’s death leaves a huge void in this city. I hope that someone will be strong enough to step in his shoes and continue the J. D. Lewis mantra of getting things done.
My wife called to my attention a poem by Maya Angelou that could be a description of the kind of man J. D. was. Its entitled “When Great Trees Fall.”
From the book Celebrations Rituals of Peace and Prayer by Maya Angelou
When Great Trees Fall
When great trees fall,
When great trees fall
When great souls die,
Great souls die and
And when great souls die,