Peirce F. Lewis

1927 - 2018

Peirce F. Lewis, an American geographer and professor emeritus at the Department of Geography at Penn State, died on February 18, 2018 in State College, PA. He was 90.

Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Peirce worked as a civilian geographer in the U.S. Army Forces Far East Command in Tokyo, Japan from 1953-1955. Afterward, he conducted post-doctoral study focusing on geomorphology of North America. Peirce joined the Geography Department at Penn State in 1958 where he taught until his retirement in n1995.

Lewis was an acclaimed lecturer and essayist known for his research interests in the American landscape and the cultural geography of America. His writings garnered awards from the American Association of Geographers (AAG) and the International Geographical Union. In 2004, he won the AAG J. B. Jackson Award for his book, New Orleans: The Making of an Urban Landscape.

Peirce also received several awards for his vibrant and engaging approaches to teaching geography, including the Lindback Foundation Award, Penn State’s highest award for distinguished teaching, the first Penn State Provost’s award for distinguished multidisciplinary teaching, and a national award as a distinguished teacher at the college level by the National Council for Geographic Education.

During his term as president of the AAG (1983-1984), Peirce worked strenuously to improve public understanding of the nature and value of professional geography. He was also a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow in the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. He served as a geographic consultant for the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Society, for Pennsylvania Public Television, and the filmmaking branch of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Dr. Lewis holds a bachelor’s from Albion College and graduate degrees from the University of Michigan. He earned his master’s in 1953 and a doctorate in 1958.

Peirce was born on October 26, 1927, in Detroit, Mich., and is the son of the late Peirce and Amy Fee Lewis, of Pleasant Ridge, MI. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Felicia L. Lewis, of State College; his son, Hugh G. Lewis and his wife, Joselyn, of Gettysburg; his three granddaughters, Gillian Desonier-Lewis and Isla and Raquel Lewis; his sister, Frances Lewis Stevenson, and her husband, John, of St. Augustine, Fla.; and his beloved nephews and niece.