Northland's Very Own: Fred Lewis

By KBJR News 1

August 27, 2010 Updated Aug 27, 2010 at 8:02 AM CDT

For Fred Lewis... life has become a challenge as to how hard he can push himself.

"He doesn't let his disability get in the way of life and that charge is something I wish more people had," says Eric Larson of the Courage Center.

For the past 60 years Fred has suffered from polio... but his most recent battle started when he discovered he had Parkinson's disease.

"It was not a sentence like cancer would be. I thought I had a few more years to live. Everyday I would have to learn to live with it," says Fred.

This movement disorder has taken a toll on Fred's body... even causing him to lose his once powerful voice.

But even at the age of 90... he refuses to let this slow him down or break his spirit.

Fred shows his iron will on a daily basis... but he really caused some jaws to drop this winter when he strapped on some skis and hit the slopes.

"They are all yelling he wants to go again and I think they went down four times. I don't even know the words to describe the thrill of watching it much less him experiencing it," says Fred's care provider Maureen Matheson.

"Skiing this winter brought back those memories of skiing all those years ago with Mary and the kids. I had a great feeling of euphoria," says Fred.

Fred was given this opportunity through the Courage Center... by using modified equipment for people with physical disabilities.

Dealing with his disabilities has become a way of life for Fred... and when others see that will manifested in his numerous abilities... many ask where he gets the strength to keep going.

"He said who is that man and so I told him. Then a couple of days later he came up to me and told me how depressed he had been and he said watching him work has brought me hope," says Maureen.

Fred has left a strong legacy in the business world of Duluth... and in his retirement he continues to impact and inspire many lives.

"He has done so much for this community and people know that and he will be recognized for that. But this is another part of that, the lives that he has touched with his disability," says Maureen.

Through the years Fred Lewis has become prominent in the Northland banking industry... and he has made many generous contributions to organizations such as the Courage Center to help others with physical disabilities.