OMER LEWIS Student Staff and Community

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY 
OMER LEWIS Student Staff and Community
Published 2021-09-24 aae

OMER LEWIS Student Staff and Community

Student 1934-1936
Maintenance & Farm Supervisor, Bus Driver 1951-1984

OMER LEWIS STAFF AND COMMUNITY ; VII 63 Life Work Maintenance, Farm, Grounds part I

“Jess Patterson, Omer Lewis.” VII 63 Life Work Maintenance, Farm, Grounds. [VII_63_life_work_001-34.jpg]

TAGS: Omer Lewis, students, staff, community, bus drivers, maintenance workers, Arwilla Creech Lewis, Creech family, farm managers, Brit Wilder, PMSS Notes, Alvin Boggs, Scott Mathies, Elijah Gilbert Lewis, Susannah Lewis, crafts, broom-making, chair bottoming

Omer Lewis was a Pine Mountain Settlement School student in the 1930s who later became a longtime employee at the School. His mother, Arwilla (Creech) Lewis, was the granddaughter of William and Sally (Dixon) Creech


The PMSS History Summaries lists Omer as a PMSS staff member from May 1951 until April 1984. Throughout those years, he served in the School’s Maintenance Department. In addition, he was the School’s bus driver until 1962 and farm manager from 1974 until 1984. 

Beginning in May of 1974, Omer was promoted to maintenance supervisor, replacing his cousin Brit Wilder, also a former PMSS student, who was retiring. The November 1974 issue of the School’s newsletter, Notes from the Pine Mountain Settlement School, reported on page 1 that

After 25 years of faithful and excellent service as head of maintenance, Brit Wilder retired last spring, to be succeeded by his cousin, a former Pine Mountain student and our friend and neighbor, Omer Lewis. No one takes Brit’s place of course, but Omer has his own valuable place and we couldn’t have found a better successor for our maintenance head.

This tribute was likely written by Reverend Alvin Boggs, then-director of PMSS. Two years later, he describes the work of Omer and his workers in the November 1975 issue of Notes:

Omer Lewis, our Farm and Maintenance supervisor, proudly claims that this abundance [of garden produce] in a year of poor yields in the neighborhood was achieved without the use of commercial fertilizer. The same crew that works on the farm has also managed to refloor two large buildings as well as carrying out hundreds of current repairs to buildings and plant.

Scott Mathies, a former employee of PMSS’s Environmental Education program from 1979 to 1981, later wrote a narrative of his experiences, recalling that 

An important part of the Pine Mountain Settlement School was the maintenance staff such as Omer Lewis and his son, [as well as] Asbel Browning, Marlin (?), Jimmy Wilder, and others …

Omer’s work at Pine Mountain ended in April of 1984 when he resigned for health reasons.


Omer Lewis was born in April 1921. He had six siblings: Eva, Herbert, Una, Elmer, Owen, Arnold, and Paul Darwin. 

For a greater part of his time at Pine Mountain Settlement School, Omer worked alongside his father, Elijah Gilbert (“Gib”) Lewis (1891-1983), who worked in the Maintenance Department at the School from 1952 until 1975. Gilbert was highly respected for his skills at making traditional brooms and chair bottoms of woven hickory strips.

Omer’s mother, Arwilla (Creech) Lewis (1895-1975), was the granddaughter of William and Sally (Dixon) Creech, who donated their land for the establishment of Pine Mountain Settlement School. Arwilla was well-known for her beautiful dahlias, bouquets of which graced the flower tables at the 1944 Community Fair.

Omer married Susannah Lewis and the couple had three sons (Vernon, David, and Gary) and one daughter (Sandra). 

Omer Lewis died on January 11, 2012, in Cumberland, Kentucky, at the age of 90.

See Also: OMER LEWIS Correspondence (in progress)

GALLERY: OMER LEWIS Student Staff and Community


Omer Lewis

Alt. Title




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Omer Lewis ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ;students ; staff ; community ; bus drivers ; maintenance workers ; Arwilla Creech Lewis ; Creech family ; farm managers ; Brit Wilder ; PMSS Notes ; Alvin Boggs ; Scott Mathies ; Elijah Gilbert Lewis ; Susannah Lewis ; crafts ; broom-making ; chair bottoming ;

Subject LCSH

Lewis, Omer, — 1921 – 2012.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.


2021-09-11 hhw/aae; published 2021-09-24 


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet.


Series 09: Biography – Staff and Community.




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography – Staff and Community.

Coverage Temporal

1891 – 2012

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ;


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Omer Lewis ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Omer Lewis ;




“[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated

2021-09-13 aae; 



GILBERT (“Gib”) LEWIS Community.” Series 09: Biography – Community. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

“United States, GenealogyBank Obituaries, 1980-2014,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 8 September 2021), Omer Lewis, Kentucky, United States, 13 Jan 2012; from “Recent Newspaper Obituaries (1977 – Today),” database, ( ). Internet resource.

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