2008-03-06 / Front Page

County to rename portion of Hwy. 378 after Pop Lewis

JAMES ROY "POP" LEWIS JAMES ROY "POP" LEWIS The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution urging the Georgia General Assembly to name a portion of Georgia Highway 378 the "James Roy 'Pop' Lewis Highway."

The action was taken at a called meeting of the commission held Thursday, February 28, at the courthouse.

A legend in the music world, Pop was the patriarch of the Lewis Family, "America's First Family of Bluegrass Gospel Music." He passed away on March 23, 2004, at the age of 98.

Born in Pickens, South Carolina, on September 22, 1905, Pop moved to Lincoln County when he was five. Fifteen years later, on October 25, 1925, he eloped with the former Pauline Holloway. Throughout the years, the couple had eight children, and their lives were filled with music - guitars, mandolins, fiddles, and banjos.

Eventually, the family started receiving invitations to perform at area suppers, schools, and homecomings, but it was not until 1951, that the group was officially billed as the Lewis Family.

With Pop at the helm, the family moved from singing on front porches in the 1940s to performing at venues such as the Lincoln Center in New York City; the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee; and the Baird Auditorium at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

Moreover, the Lewis Family holds the record for the longest running gospel music television show in America. The weekly program was broadcast from 1954 to 1992 on WJBF-TV (Channel 6) in Augusta.

Although the Lewis Family has received countless awards and honors over the years as a group, Pop was singled out for induction into the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 2000. He was also presented with the "2003 Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award" by "Southern Gospel News SCOOPS," a magazine dedicated to serving the body of Christ by promoting Southern gospel music and the gospel message.

During his 98 years, Pop, in his unassuming way, preached a powerful sermon on the importance of God, family, love, and music. He was truly a legend, both as a man and a musician.

The resolution, which was read to those present at the meeting by Roxanne Ashmore, county clerk, states, "James Roy 'Pop' Lewis will always be remembered by the citizens of Lincoln County for his many contributions to his community and to the world of bluegrass gospel music."

If the resolution is approved by the General Assembly, that portion of Highway 378 that runs from the city limits to the Wilkes County line will be named in memory of Pop Lewis. It is fitting that the road runs by the house he shared with his wife of 77 years as well as the homes of some of his children and grandchildren.

During the meeting, members of the commission expressed the sentiment that it would have been nice if the road had been named for Pop while he was still living.

In other business, the commission voted to cover the employees of Lincoln County Family Connection and the FAST START program under the county's Worker's Compensation Insurance policy. The county, which serves as the fiscal agent for the grants that fund these programs, will be reimbursed at the end of the year.

The next regular meeting of the board of commissioners will be held Thursday, March 13, at 6 p.m. in the courtroom on the second floor of the courthouse.

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