Larry Lewis g76
Larry Lewis came to Fort Wayne Bible College in the fall of 1972 mainly to play basketball, which he did with a passionate, hard-nosed intensity that endeared him to fans. But God had bigger plans for Larry. While at FWBC he matured as a Christian and found his life calling, graduating with a B.S. in Christian Education in 1976.
Larry’s parents, Dale and Judith A. (nee Moser), were Fort Wayne alumni and became ordained ministers. Dale graduated in 1952 with a Diploma in Bible, and the couple served together in pastoral ministry for 57 years with the Evangelical Friends and the Church of God, Anderson. Judy went to heaven on March 16, 2008. Dale remarried Joyce Livingston, and they serve together in Pastoral Care at Central Community Church in Wichita, Kansas.
While his parents led the Friends Church of Lynn, Indiana, Larry made his mark in baseball, basketball and track at Randolph Southern High School. Coach Steve Morley scouted Larry and watched his team win a tournament there, though Larry remembers inauspiciously slicing his own head open while cutting down the nets. Larry continued to celebrate victories throughout his time at Fort Wayne, culminating with the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) II men’s basketball national championship in 1976 in his final game.
Shultz Hall dorm supervisor Max Wanner nicknamed Larry “Bear” for his low voice, then “Sugar Bear,” alluding to the Sugar Crisp mascot, because Larry seemed so shy and sweet. (Larry says it should have been “sugar free,” since he was diagnosed with diabetes shortly thereafter.) The name stuck all four years. The voice was indeed memorable. Larry sang, played a mean trumpet, and toured with the college singing group Positive Side in the summer of 1973.
Larry made his mark on the Falcons from the very beginning with his energetic defense keying a newly-installed zone press. FWBC went 23-6 in 1972-73, winning the Bethel Invitational Tournament (now Gates Automotive Classic), the Falcon Invitational Tournament, the North Central Christian Athletic Conference (NCCAC) co-championship, and the NCCAC Tournament, before bowing to Grace College in the NCCAA District 3 championship game. The freshman point guard tallied 306 points (10.6 average), pulled down 147 rebounds (5.1), and was honored with the inaugural team Sportsmanship-Hustle Award, as well as making Fort Wayne All-City honorable mention.
Coach Kent Fishel resurrected the FWBC men’s tennis team in the fall of 1973, the beginning of Larry’s sophomore year. A multi-talented athlete, Larry captained the squad for three straight seasons, with Greg Ponchot g77 and Larry taking the top two spots in an invitational tournament that first spring (1974) against select competition from NCCAC schools. Larry came back from a 2-7 deficit and gutted out a memorable come-from-behind victory in the semi-final match before Greg nabbed the title in an all-Falcons final. The next two years, the Falcons won back-to-back NCCAC championships, with overall records of 9-3 in the fall of 1974 and 11-1 in the fall of 1975. Larry finished with multiple honors including Falcon MVP, All-Conference, and tied for the top player among the five Fort Wayne city colleges.
During Larry’s second year (1973-74) on the hardwood the Falcons won back-to-back one-point victories in December over arch-rivals Bethel and John Wesley and earned the nickname, “Kardiac Kids.” They then came back from a slow start in conference to repeat as NCCAC co-champions, but finished a disappointing third in the conference tournament and lost an NCCAA District 3 playoff to Bethel. The team, which still went a remarkable 20-10, won the inaugural NCCAC Sportsmanship Award. Larry rang up another 348 points (11.6 avg.) and grabbed 134 rebounds (4.5). He took the team award for defense in the first semester and set a new Falcon season assist record with 6.2 per game.
During Larry’s junior season (1974-75) the Falcons dipped slightly to a still respectable 17-8, losing to John Wesley in the NCCAC Tournament championship and to Cedarville in the NCCAC District 3 playoffs. Larry kept scoring (361 points for a 14.4 avg.) and rebounding (100), earning the team award for free throw percentage (84.8%), as well as NCCAC All-Conference second team, NCCAC All-Tournament and Fort Wayne All-City honorable mention accolades. That summer Larry played with a Sports Ambassadors collegiate all-star team in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
During Larry’s senior season (1975-76) the Falcons went 18-9 as they closed out “Seven Golden Years” (1969-76) of FWBC men’s basketball. Although the Falcons finished second in the NCCAC and a disappointing third in the NCCAC tournament, they found redemption in the inaugural NCCAA II National Tournament. A division had been created just for Bible colleges, and the Falcons could finally prove on the court what may have been true for most of those seven special years, namely, that they were the best Bible college team in the country. Larry was named an NCCAA II All-American.
Larry scored another 306 points throughout his senior year, snatched 116 more rebounds, and dished out a season record 146 assists. So he finished his notable time as a collegiate hoopster with 1,321 points, 497 rebounds, and two Falcon career records (583 assists and a 74.1% free throw average). His defensive legacy was less easily quantified, but for four years Larry’s task was to help contain such explosive talents as Joel Ragland of John Wesley, and Scott McKnight of Grand Rapids Baptist.
Larry pursued a Kansas state teacher’s license and earned another B.S. from Friends University in 1978, followed by an M.S. from Wichita State University in 1984. He has enjoyed a lengthy and highly successful 35-year career as a public and Christian school educator (teacher and principal), as well as coach for a variety of boys and girls athletic teams for 36 years, especially basketball and volleyball. After teaching for nine years in Haviland, Kansas, he dedicated 26 more years to Christian Schools in California.
His coaching achievements include a 141-32 volleyball record with six league championships and two state tournament appearances at Haviland High School and a 399-31 basketball record with 24 league championships at Friends Christian Middle School. He has given Sunday morning devotionals for visiting Major League Baseball teams playing the California Angels and has twice visited with the late John Wooden in his home in Encino, CA.
Since 2013 Larry has been serving as Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Barclay College in Haviland, Kansas and coaching their women’s volleyball team.
Larry met his wife, Sheryl (also a teacher with a degree from Kansas State), in Wichita, and they have three grown children: Lyndie Anne Victoria (husband Luis, daughter Ava) of Wichita, KA; Landon Joel Lewis-Los Angeles, CA, and Brock David Lewis (wife Kelli) Brea, CA.
Larry’s life verse is Jeremiah 29:11 : “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [NIV]