Owen D. Lewis was born on April 9, 1925, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He graduated from Reynolds High School in 1942 and went on to attend Moravian College in Pennsylvania for one year. He served in the Merchant Marines for three years during WWII, and then attended The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and received a B.S. in Business Administration.
Lewis served as the president of the Unitarian Fellowship in Winston-Salem in 1961 and 1962, which organized peaceful demonstrations in the city. In 1967 he moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, and worked as a reporter for the Greensboro Daily News. In this capacity, he sat in on many strategy sessions with civil rights leaders including Jesse Jackson. Lewis later became public information director with the Greensboro school system and was assistant to the superintendent when the Dudley High School/NC A&T University riot occurred in May 1969.
Lewis completed a masters degree in education administration at North Carolina A&T University 1973 and five years later earned a certification in educational administration and business and marketing education from UNCG.
Lewis was also active in many civic groups and organizations, including the Rotary Club, Phi Delta Kappa, and City Club, and Juvenile Crime Prevention Council. Owen Lewis died on May 15, 2007.