Born: Northfield, Illinois
George Lewis has been referred to as “The father of women’s gymnastics in Washington State” in much the same as Hubie Dunn has been given the same honor regarding men’s gymnastics in the state. Most of George’s work was conducted at the Seattle YMCA where he was a teacher of teachers and athletes, many of whom went on to national prominence.
George Lewis learned his gymnastics and tumbling at Green Lake Field House and Roosevelt High School in Seattle, WA-USA. He began volunteer work at the Seattle YMCA, (1939-’42). He served in the military during WWII and returned to the “Y” where he continued his own training and made successful efforts to interest other men, including Tommy Thorson, in working on the apparatus. Since he always enjoyed teaching others, he conducted classes for young people; in fact, George Lewis conducted the first competitive open meet in Washington State after the war, (1947). At this time, Hubie Dunn, from Illinois, came to Washington State University where he started their gymnastics program. The program at the Seattle “Y” attracted many high school physical education teachers and the generous sharing that George gave to the sport of gymnastics, especially to the girls. He gave workshops, invitational meets and helped them go to other meets and invited them to workouts at the YMCA. Lewis retired from his volunteer work at the “Y” in 1987 after helping numerous athletes, coaches, and teachers learn the sport of gymnastics. Coach: George founded Gymnastics, Inc. and moved his club from the Seattle “Y” to Seattle Pacific University, (1972). During 1975 & ’76, he was Head Coach of Seattle Pacific’s varsity women’s gymnastics team. Laurel Anderson-Tindall and Debbie Halle, U.S. National Team members were on his team. At one time or another, Lewis coached Olympians Joyce Tanac-Schroeder and Doris Fuchs, both of whom became USGHOF Inductees. Also traveling to the state of Washington were Avis Tieber-Jamison, USGHOF Inductee, about whom George said, “ . . . her work was gorgeous on the beam-you couldn’t keep your eyes off her.” She came to train with George, like Doris Fuchs. This travel to train with a specific coach is not unlike the gymnasts of today who travel as necessary to find just the right coach for them. He worked with other outstanding gymnasts as well as those that became Hall of Fame Honorees; for example, he helped train Jeanette Boyd, Silver-AA at both the USGF and NAAU Championships, (1966), and Lonna Woodward won Gold-BB at the USGF National Championships, (1969). Honors: Inducted into the first Washington Hall of Fame, (2002).
Sources: Primary text and data courtesy of Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005. Jerry also provided color photo. Photo of Mr. Lewis receiving a championship trophy with Lonna Woodward from the “Y” from www.nawgjwa.com/historywa.htmo/. We suggest you visit this site for more early Washington State History athletic history.