Fred Lewis was born April 24, 1937 in Charleston, Mississippi. He began his musical studies at an early age on the piano and then turned his attention to the saxophone and clarinet. He studied those instruments with Victor Zajac who had come to Charleston from Chicago's Vandercook College of Music to assume the music directorship of Charleston High School.
After graduation from high school in 1955 Fred came to Chicago to attend Vandercook College of Music. There he continued his musical studies, concentrating on woodwinds and conducting. He soon became known in Chicago as a brilliant saxophonist and a talented conductor as well as an excellent woodwind teacher. Later in his career he became an excellent flutist, studying that instrument with Emil Eck of the Chicago symphony Orchestra.
While at Vandercook Fred came to the attention of Lynn Huffman, then the music director of Fenton High School in Bensenville, Illinois. Huffman asked Fred to provide private lessons for woodwind players in Fenton's bands. Fred's abilities led Huffman to hire him as a permanent faculty member in 1958.
In 1962, Fred became Director of Bands at Fenton and then Music Department Chairman in 1967. He retained these positions until his own retirement in 2003. In addition, Fred became Music Director of the Bensenville Municipal Band in 1962. Fred's last concert was with the Municipal Band in March, 2013.
Fred brought hard work, talent, discipline and persistence to bear at Fenton, creating one of the best high school music programs in the state. He was equally at home conducting the concert bands, leading the jazz band, teaching woodwinds, conducting musicals, and teaching music appreciation classes along with many other activities. His professional musical career gave an extra dimension to the knowledge that he passed on to his students.
He earned a national reputation as a music educator and was invited to give clinics and to guest conduct at colleges and high schools around the country.
Fred Lewis was at the center of musical life in Bensenville and Wood Dale for more than fifty years. During his long career and in his many roles he inspired and touched the lives of thousands in whose memories he will live on.