The Life and Times of Runston T. “POP” Lewis

Though Runston was raised in an impoverished environment he was able to persevere with guidance from mentors like Glenn E. Hines and Rev. Frank Jones and to achieve success throughout his life. His story is truly a success story within the African American community in Orange County.

While working and providing for his family, Runston received his Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees. Eager to advance his knowledge base, Runston went on to graduate from Fordham University with a Masters in Social Work.

He served in the US Army as a paratrooper and returned to the Newburgh area where he and his wife planted their roots. He worked for 3 years at Mastic Tile Corporation in Newburgh, served 5 years in the City of Newburgh Police Department and went to work with the New York State Department of Social Welfare in several private child welfare agencies throughout Westchester County. He remained in the position of upper level management in this field for over 25 years.

Feeling the urge to follow his dreams, Mr. Lewis then became an entrepreneur in the City of Newburgh where he owned several local businesses including Pop’s Paradise, Liberty Street Laundromat, and Pop’s Liquors & Wines.

Fondly called “Pop” he was a member of myriad civic organizations including the NAACP, the Association of Black Educators, Pop’s Pets and Pals, the Majestic Club of Newburgh, and the former Black and Hispanic Coalition. He also served as President of the Board of Directors of Glenn E. Hines Boys & Girls Club, St. Luke’s/Cornwall Hospital Board of Trustees member, former member of the United Way of Orange County and the Chamber of Commerce of Orange County. He was very proud of the Brave New Focus Corporation that he, his childhood friend Harvey J. Burger, friends Dave Johnson and Ed Winfield along with 3 other gentlemen established taking on the huge task of revitalizing a section of Liberty Street (the block between South Street and Gidney Ave) after the block had been abandoned.
Mr. Lewis had been a member of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District’s Board of Education for 22 years serving as its president for 12 years.

His kindness and generosity were evident during his annual “Experienced Citizens” dinners for the seniors in our community (supported by Joe Bonura/Pier 9, Pop’s Pet’s & Pals, and NFA Seniors), awarding NFA seniors with scholarships, and the annual cookouts held at Algonquin Park (aka” Family Day”) were events that brought him so much joy.

He was awarded numerous honors, recognitions, and citations during his lifetime. These included Superintendent Dr. Annette M. Saturnellis’ honor(2007), Newburgh Reunion(2007), Glenn Hines Boys & Girls Club Alumni Hall of Fame inductee(2006), The Martin Luther King Jr. Orange County Commission(2005), American Legion Certificate of Service, NYS Assembly Certificate of Merit(2005) and the Orange County Executive/ Pillars of the Community award by the Family Health Center of Newburgh(2005).

He is also fondly remembered as a Delano-Hitch softball league umpire and as a referee for the City of Newburgh basketball league . He would leave his job in Westchester, pick up his daughter in Port Chester and make it to Newburgh on time to referee the games at North Jr. High School.

To God be the glory.

In memory of “POP” the family is asking that you make a contribution to either the Glenn Hines Boys and Girls Club of Newburgh or an organization that feeds the hungry.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email