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Shelter Island Reporter obituary: Nancy Christine (Chris) Lewis

Nancy Christine (Chris) Lewis passed away at age 88 on Feb. 1, 2023, after a brief illness.

Born Nancy Christine Hildenbrand in 1935 to Louis and Katherine Hildenbrand in Indiana, Chris was raised in Kankakee, Illinois.

She later headed off to Chicago to attend nursing school before ultimately moving to New York City as a nurse.

In 1958, Chris married Bob McKee and the couple had two daughters, Katie and Liz, before Bob’s untimely passing.

In 1965, Chris met Ken Lewis and the two were married in 1966 and later had a son, Ken Jr. They moved their family to Shelter Island where they built their family home on South Ferry Road.

Chris and Ken enjoyed 42 years of marriage, raising children, dogs, cats and horses together, enjoying the richness of life with friends on Shelter Island. Chris also continued her nursing career across these decades, but her passion for serving her community outside of the hospital became paramount amongst her jobs.

Proud to call Shelter Island home for more than 50 years, Chris spent 12 years on the Shelter Island School Board in the 1970s and early 1980s, and later served 16 years as a Town councilwoman  — believed to be the longest term served by a woman on the Town Council at her retirement in 2018.

Most recently, Chris volunteered with the Senior Citizens Foundation of Shelter Island and was its president. Through the years, Chris also served on numerous Town committees such as the EMS Advisory Board, the Ferry Study Committee, Building and Grounds Committee, and Police Department Advisory Committee. Her service to Shelter Island allowed her compassion for others to shine brightly.

The thing that Chris took the most pride in was being a devoted wife, sister, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend to many.

Her children and grandchildren will remember life lessons in compromise; knowing how to disagree with facts without name-calling; ensuring to always throw the ball parallel to the house; how to make sandwiches in the backseat of a car at a border crossing; knowing how to make a little mischief; and having a good sense of humor — particularly when it comes to oneself.

She also taught all of us how to enjoy the magic of a full day at Crescent Beach; to only partially follow the instructions in a recipe book; to record the winner of Christmas Monopoly on the back of an envelope to have a record for future years; how to properly load the dishwasher; and never to serve smoked salmon with the Trader Joe’s Rosemary Crackers.

Chris was predeceased by her husbands Kenneth and Robert, brother John, sister Judy and grandson Christopher. She is survived by her children Katie Thomson (Bob), Liz McKee, and Ken Lewis Jr. (Robin); grandchildren Sarah (Daniel), Ryan (Jennifer), Kevin, Emily and Kal; and great-grandchildren Christopher and Eliana. She will also be missed by her grand-dog Brando, who waited every morning for his scratch behind the ears and a good piece of toast.

Memorial Services for Chris will be held at the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 2 p.m.