His life centred on rugby and the Army, but Colonel Lewis lost battle to COVID-19

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By Avenash Ramzan

Colonel John Percy Leon Lewis, the former president of the Guyana Rugby Football Union, is the sixth person to die from the coronavirus in Guyana.

Colonel Lewis, who represented Guyana in rugby as player before taking up a role in administration and management, died on Tuesday evening at age 77. He was also a Civil Engineer.

His son Robert, speaking to News Room on Thursday, confirmed his father died from the virus. He said the test was done on his father, and the Ministry of Public Health confirmed he had indeed contracted the virus.

Only weeks ago, Robert also lost his mother, who passed away after being infected with pneumonia.

“(This is a) huge, huge blow. Still trying to cope with it,” Robert related.

Colonel Lewis was one of the key figures in local rugby, serving in various capacity for a number of decades. He had accumulated a wealth of experience, playing as well as administering the sport.

“Everything was rugby (for him); that was his life,” Robert reflected.

Colonel Lewis was admitted to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation the day before he died and was in the coronavirus Intensive Care Unit.

Born February 13, 1943, Colonel Lewis served the Guyana Defence Force for 30 years.

President David Granger said in a statement this week: “His military career started on March 9, 1968, when he enlisted as a Second Lieutenant in the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). John Lewis would spend his entire military service in the Reserve Force of the GDF; the Guyana People’s Militia (GPM).

He was promoted to the rank of Colonel on January 1st 1999 and was the Commanding Officer of the 22Battalion GPM.”

“In over 30 years of military service to Guyana, Colonel Lewis greatly enriched the life and development of the Militia. Colonel Lewis was an avid sportsman and represented the GDF at rugby. He also played soccer, badminton and basketball.”

GRFU President Ryan Dey said the passing of Colonel Lewis is a “hard blow” for the rugby fraternity, who made a huge contribution to the sport, both as a player and administrator.

“He also helped to mould a lot of guys, including myself. You could have gone to him for advice, be it rugby, be it life. He was a wonderful person, very transparent guy. He was one of the guys that helped me, or was trying to help me, to achieve my vision on what we really needed to do for rugby to be back at the top. This is really a tough loss for us.”

As of April 09, Guyana recorded 37 cases of the new coronavirus.

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