Theodore G. Lewis (1890-1934)
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice
The justice who never sat.
"The life of 'Ted' Lewis, from country boy to the Supreme Court, should forever keep aglow the cherished American tradition that determination, effort, and honest devotion to one's chosen field, lead with certainty to the most cherished of all our rewards-the fullness and enjoyment of life..."- William R. Curkeet, Lewis' memorial service (1936)
Theodore Gorman Lewis was born on a farm in McFarland, Wisconsin, on November 19, 1890. He graduated from Cambridge High School in 1909 and attended business college in Madison. Lewis received a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1913 and a law degree two years later. He was admitted to the bar and joined a Madison law firm.
During World War I, Lewis enrolled in Officer Training Camp at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. He was commissioned second lieutenant in August 1917 and was promoted to first lieutenant later that year. He was active in the 32nd division in Europe until he was wounded in a battle in France. After recovering, Lewis served with the Army of Occupation in Germany. He was honorably discharged in June 1919 and was awarded the Purple Heart for his distinguished service.
Lewis returned to Madison and resumed law practice, but remained active in military affairs. From 1921 to 1925, he served as district attorney for Dane County and was elected to two terms as city attorney in the early 1930s. In 1933, Lewis was named executive secretary to Governor Albert G. Schmedeman (who had been the mayor of Madison when Lewis was the city attorney). Public confidence in Lewis helped smooth problems facing the executive office during this period.
On November 15, 1934, Schmedeman appointed Lewis, 43, to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Justice Walter C. Owen. Lewis died of pneumonia 20 days later, on December 5, 1934, never having heard a case.
Lewis was married to Mabel Davidson Inbusch. They had two children, Nancy and Theodore, Jr.