CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Michael Lewis, former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources, died Friday at Hubbard Hospice House in Charleston. He was 70.
Thom Stevens, a friend of Lewis' for more than 30 years and the president of Government Relations Specialists, said Lewis touched the lives of many of his patients, colleagues and friends through his work as a family physician and leader in the medical field.
"He was the epitome of a family physician who placed quality of care for his patients as his top priority," Stevens said. "As a leader in health care, he excelled in policy."
Lewis served as former board member of West Virginia University Hospitals, chairman of the department of family medicine and associate vice president for the WVU School of Medicine, former graduate director at Charleston Area Medical Center and former vice chancellor for health sciences at the Higher Education Policy Commission. Lewis was vice chancellor for heart, dental and public health programs at East Carolina University before returning to his home state to head the DHHR.
"Throughout his career, he was a kind, compassionate health-care advocate who dedicated his life to the health of all West Virginians," Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said.
Lewis, a Raleigh County native, was the first Cabinet appointment made by Tomblin, and served in the position for 18 months before stepping down in June 2012 for medical reasons.
"My life has come full circle, from the chronically-ill child raised in southern West Virginia in need of health care to heading the department responsible for delivery of the same," Lewis wrote in his letter of resignation to Tomblin. "Serving West Virginia has been the greatest honor of my life."