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Coach, Campus Supervisor Ralph Lewis passes away

Ralph Lewis, a staff member at Bear River for the last three years, has passed away. Photo by Massiel Chavez

Basketball Coach and Campus Supervisor Ralph Lewis passed away on the evening of Saturday, May 2, after working at Bear River for the past three years and impacting the lives of hundreds of Bruins. 

The news was announced in an all-call sent out by Bear River Principal Christopher Roberts to parents and students on the afternoon of May 3.

“Bear River High School Community, it is with deep sorrow that we let our community know about the passing of Ralph Lewis,” he said. “According to Ralph’s wife, Katie, Ralph passed away last night in his sleep but was surrounded by Katie and his children. Ralph has been a member of the Bear River family as a campus supervisor for 3 years and longer as a coach and mentor for our students. He was a valued member of the Bear River staff, and built strong relationships with students and staff alike. He will be dearly missed.”

Details have yet to be shared, but Bruins have already begun to share their reactions.

“He was truly a good-hearted person and cared for all of the kids at Bear River,” said Senior Brekyn Vasquez. ”He would always try and make the kids laugh and enjoy school more… Rest in peace to my coach and friend Ralph Lewis. Thank you for gifting me with your knowledge of the game of basketball and of life. I will never forget the life lessons and stories you have told me. Fly high coach.”

“He always had a positive mood and was nice to everyone,” said fellow Senior Tommy Triplett. “He always had a positive energy surrounding him and that made other people happy.” 

“Ralph has done so much for me and others I have so much respect for him,” said Senior Hailey Hughes. “He was very close to me and my family, and did so much for me. Me and Ralph would joke about me graduating and I was excited to see him at our graduation. He has done so much for our school as well, helped us grow. The thing that saddens me the most is that I never got a final goodbye. he always showed up to our dance shows, talent shows, sports events, and etc. He always put us first and supported each of us at BRHS. My condolences go out to his family and may he rest easy.”

Bruin Alumni Marie-Claire Desplancke talked about some memories she had of him. 

“He was probably the most rigorous coach I’ve ever had,” she said. “… but I think it was his way of teaching us how to respect the game of basketball. He was always kind to me even though [we didn’t always agree on everything], and I will always remember how he treated the band students and the music program with the same level of respect as he would basketball.”

English Teacher Toby Barmeyer expressed her shock over the sudden news. 

“I just saw him on Google Meet on Friday and saw him at school on Monday,” she said. “So sad. He was young, in the scheme of things. To me he was always friendly and nice. I had some great conversations with him. It’s so sad. Ralph always made the time to say hello to me, ask me about my day, and make me feel welcome no matter how busy he was. He was a great conversationalist and was a really interesting guy.” 

Coach Lewis recently posted on a public Facebook account called Ralph Lewis Basketball Academy with a message to his players, informing them that he had battled COVID-19 in mid-April, but tested negative for the virus last week, allowing him to begin his recovery. 

“I am feeling much better and I’m about 50%,” he said. “It will take time to get my lungs and legs back, but the work has already begun. I can only stress that COVID-19 is no joke! You don’t want to pass it to a grandparent or anyone who is vulnerable. Hope to see you all soon. Hit me up for workouts you can do at home. Stay safe!”

The cause of passing was not stated in Principal Robert’s message, and no reference was made to it being related or not related to COVID-19 complications.

Principal Roberts explained that more information will be sent out soon about how Bruins can safely honor Coach Lewis’ life, as well as support his family. 

“Our condolences extend to Ralph’s wife, Katie, and his family during this very difficult time,” he said. “As more information becomes available about possible services for Ralph, possibly virtual, as well as ways to support the family, we’ll let you know. I will be sending out a message to students and families later this evening or tomorrow.” 

— Catherine Desplancke contributed to this report

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Coach, Campus Supervisor Ralph Lewis passes away