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Obituary of Peirce F. Lewis, 90


Dr. Peirce F. Lewis, 90, died at Mount Nittany Medical Center, State College, PA, on February 18, 2018. He was born on October 26, 1927, in Detroit, MI and is the son of the late Peirce and Amy Fee Lewis of Pleasant Ridge. MI.

He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Felicia L. Lewis of State College, PA; his son, Hugh G. Lewis and his wife, Joselyn, of Gettysburg, PA; his three granddaughters, Gillian Desonier-Lewis and Isla and Raquel Lewis; his sister, Frances Lewis Stevenson, and her husband, John, of St. Augustine, FL, and his beloved nephews and niece.

Peirce was a graduate of Cranbrook Academy of Bloomfield Hills, MI in 1944. He served in the U.S. Army for two years before attending Albion College where he graduated with a degree in Philosophy and History in 1950. He was a member of the Society of the Sigma Xi, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Phi Beta Kappa. He began studies at the University of Michigan towards a Ph.D. in Geography which he obtained in 1958.

He married Felicia L. Stegeman of Detroit, MI, on February 2, 1952. During his Ph.D. studies, he was recruited to work as a civilian geographer in the U.S. Army Forces Far East Command in Tokyo, Japan where Peirce and Felicia lived from 1953-1955. They also spent a year at the University of Washington in Seattle where Peirce did a post-doctoral study focusing on geomorphology of North America.

Peirce and Felicia moved to State College, PA in 1958 when Peirce joined the faculty of Penn State University’s Geography Department where he taught from 1958 until his retirement in 1995. Peirce loved everything about geography and revelled in any opportunity to share his enthusiasm for the subject with others. His acclaim as a lecturer and essayist is widely acknowledged by students and colleagues alike. His writings have received awards from the Association of American Geographers and the International Geographical Union. In 2004, he won the J. B. Jackson Award for his book, New Orleans: The Making of an Urban Landscape . He gave invited lectures for more than 100 audiences around the country, both academic and public. He was a visiting professor at University of California, Berkeley and at Michigan State University.

He received several awards for his vibrant and engaging approaches to teaching geography, including the Lindback Foundation Award, Penn State’s highest award for distinguished teaching, the first Penn State Provost’s award for distinguished multidisciplinary teaching, and a national award as a distinguished teacher at the college level by the National Council for Geographic Education. Peirce enthusiastically encouraged his students to truly observe the world around them. Former students often note that field trips with Peirce were a highlight of their Penn State experience. During his term as president of the Association of American Geographers, Peirce worked strenuously to improve public understanding of the nature and value of professional geography. He was also a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow in the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. He served as a geographic consultant for the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Society, for Pennsylvania Public Television, and the filmmaking branch of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Throughout the years, he was involved in many activities, including the State College Literary Club, and was an engaged member of the State College community. He co-authored the State College Borough sign-control ordinance that was adopted in 1969 and became the model for the Centre Region. He also served on the Borough Traffic Commission and multiple terms on the Borough Planning Commission where he was an outspoken advocate for responsible planning. In 2004, Peirce and Felicia jointly received the Borough Legacy Award for outstanding contributions to the quality of community life. He was a loving husband, father, uncle, and grandfather. Peirce will be greatly missed by family, friends, and the many people whose lives he touched.

At the request of the family, there will be no services. Memorial contributions may be made to Schlow Centre Region Library at "Schlow Library Foundation”, Schlow Library, 211 S Allen Street, State College PA 16801 or online at

Arrangements are being made through Mark D. Heintzelman Funeral and Cremation Services, State College. Online condolences may be made at

Name of Deceased

Peirce F. Lewis



Date of Death


Date of Birth


Funeral Home

Mark D. Heintzelman Funeral and Cremation Service

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