Peter B. Lewis: Former Los Altos mayor, perennial volunteer

OBIT lewis2

Peter B. Lewis, former Los Altos City Councilman who served two terms as mayor in the 1960s and 1970s, died Sept. 27 after a long illness. Mr. Lewis was 86.

Mr. Lewis lived locally for much of his life. Born in San Francisco, he graduated from Los Altos Grammar School in 1944 and Mountain View High School in 1948, where he ran track and field and specialized in the 440-yard dash. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Santa Clara University in 1952. Shortly after, he married Martha Smith in her hometown of Palo Alto.

Mr. Lewis traveled back east for work at General Electric before returning to California in the late 1950s. He worked for Reynolds Aluminum in Long Beach, then moved back to Los Altos to work for the Reynolds office in San Francisco. He experienced success as a sales engineer, also working for Phelps-Dodge, FMC and Acme Electric. He also tried his hand at commercial real estate, working for Coldwell Banker.

An interest in community involvement led to Mr. Lewis’ 1965 appointment to the Los Altos Planning Commission. He subsequently served seven years on the city council, from 1967 to 1974, including two one-year stints as mayor. He also served on county water and transportation boards.

“He was instrumental in developing the VTA (Valley Transportation Authority) system we have now, bringing in new buses and then light rail,” said Mr. Lewis’ brother, Jerome.

Mr. Lewis lived in several places after Los Altos, including Aptos and Auburn. A train buff, he served as a conductor and tour guide at the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento. After relocating to Vancouver, Wash., in 2002, he volunteered as a conductor on a railroad for tourists and served as a docent at Fort Vancouver.

After his wife died in 2008, Mr. Lewis moved back to the South Bay. He often returned to Los Altos, visiting the Arts & Wine Festival and participating as a judge at the Rotary Club of Los Altos’ Fine Art in the Park event. He was among the former mayors who attended the 2012 event celebrating Los Altos’ 60th anniversary of incorporation.

Mr. Lewis is survived by sons Patrick of Washington and Scott of New Mexico; daughters Claire Lewis of Oakland and Katie Callister of Minnesota; brothers Leandro Lewis III of Healdsburg and Jerome of Mountain View; eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His wife, Martha, and three sons – Phillip, Jeffery and Michael – preceded him in death.

No services were held.


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