Long-time math professor Lewis D. Blake III, a Duke alumnus who won the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, died at home on June 2 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 75.
Lewis attended Belton High School in Belton, South Carolina, Clemson University, and received his MA in Mathematics from Duke University in 1978. Prior to attending Duke, he spent 4 ½ years in the Navy serving mostly as a supply officer on the USS Nimitz.
Lewis’ entire teaching career of close to 40 years was spent in the Duke mathematics department. He won several teaching awards. In 2014, the Alumni Distinguished Award honored Blake for more than two decades of service as director of first-year education in the department.
Then department chair Harold Layton said the first-year program "was run [by Blake] so smoothly that it was all but invisible to me."
“It is impossible to exaggerate” the contributions Blake has made, and continues to make, both to the Math faculty and to the students, Layton added. “I consider Lewis to be an exemplar of the dedication and steadfastness for which we at Duke should strive,” Layton said.
Blake also contributed to the innovative Project CALC in the 1980s and 90s, a National Science Foundation-funded introductory calculus curriculum that emphasized real-world problems. The popular curriculum was also used by other universities.
Colleagues said Blake also showed his commitment to students through his exceptional advising. In 2014, he received Trinity College's Award for Excellence in Advising.
In his early years Lewis spent many years with his sons as a Boy Scout leader of Troop 412. Blake loved hiking and traveling with his wife and children as well as spending time together at their Charleston beach house. He also always followed his Clemson Tigers football and Duke Blue Devils basketball teams.
Lewis is survived by his wife Cheryl of almost 37 years, and his children Lewis IV (Jessica), Bill (Amelia) and Alice (Brian). He also had 2 grandchildren, Robin and Iris.
A remembrance and celebration of Lewis’ life was held June 12 at Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church in Durham.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Eno River Association or the charity of your choice.