EVANSVILLE, IND. — R. Jack Lewis Jr., chairman of Lewis Bakeries, Inc., Evansville, Ind., and a respected leader of the baking industry, died Sept. 13 at the age of 84.

A native of Anna, Ill., where Lewis Brothers was established in 1925, Mr. Lewis ran his first route for his family’s baking business when he was 15 years old. He joined the company full time in 1959 after graduating from Florida State University, Tallahassee, with a bachelor’s degree in economics after initially studying in the bakery management program there.

In 1964, Mr. Lewis was put in charge of the company’s newest baking plant, in Evansville, and in 1977 he became president of the company, succeeding his father R. Jack Lewis Sr.

Mr. Lewis remained president of the company until 2019 but maintained a lifelong habit of going into the company’s baking plants seven days a week until the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Lewis Brothers is a large regional baking company with five baking plants and 2,000 employees.

A 2010 inductee into the American Society of Baking Hall of Fame, Mr. Lewis was a past chairman for the American Bakers Association and also chaired the International Baking Industry Exposition. He was chairman and president of the American Bakery Cooperative, a board member of the W.E. Long Co. and a former president and board member of Quality Bakers of America. For his hands-on, stay connected business approach, Mr. Lewis was elected Entrepreneur of the Year in 1997 by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Lewis is survived by his children Elizabeth Sankovitch, Kathleen Pettijohn, R. Jack Lewis, III and Christina Martin.