Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Minnesota Legislature
Skip Navigation Links > > >

Lewis, Sr., B. Robert "Bob, Bert"

Senate 1973-79 (District 41)

Party when first elected:  Nonpartisan Election-Democratic-Farmer-Labor Caucus

Counties Served:  Hennepin

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Date of Birth: 11/2/1931
Birth Place: Hutchinson, Kansas
Birth County:
Birth Country: United States
Date of Death: 4/25/1979
Gender: Male
Religion: Methodist
Reported Minority:   Black
Other Names: Bob, Bert
City of Residence (when first elected): Saint Louis Park
Occupation (when first elected): Veterinarian

EDUCATION

Kansas State University; B.S.; Biological Science, 1958
Kansas State University; B.S.; Animal Husbandry, 1953
Kansas State University; D.V.M.; 1960

OTHER GOVERNMENT SERVICE

Municipal Board/Commission: St. Louis Park, Minnesota (Planning Commission, Vice-Chair); 19?? to 19??
Military: United States Army (Korean War/Conflict); 1953 to 1955
School Board/Administration: St. Louis Park, Minnesota (School Board; Treasurer, Chair, and Clerk); 1967 to 07/31/1971 [Elected]
State Board/Commission/Council: Minnesota State Board of Education; 08/01/1971 to 19?? [Appointed]

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

Spouse: Joanie (no longer listed after 1975); Margaret Sandberg (remarried in 1976)
Children: Two children: B. Robert "Bob" Jr. (son), Stacy Joan (daughter)
Family Members Who Have Served in the Minnesota Legislature:

GENERAL NOTES

Special Legislative Concerns: health, welfare and corrections; education; finance.

He was the first known African American to serve in the Minnesota Senate (Minneapolis Star, November 8, 1972) The first known African American to serve in the Minnesota Legislature was John Frances "Frank" Wheaton in 1899.

He moved to St. Louis Park, Minnesota in July 1962.

He was a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

The B. Robert Lewis House, a shelter for battered women and their children in Eagan, Minnesota, was named after him. A second Lewis House was opened in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota and then relocated to Hastings, Minnesota.

The Lewis Hospital for Companion Animals in the Veterinary Medicine building on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus was named after him in 1983. It was the first time the University of Minnesota had named a facility after a black person. (Twin Cities Courier, May 5, 1983)

He died while in office on April 25, 1979.

After his death, his wife, Margaret, filed a worker's compensation claim. She felt that his heart attack was caused by "Capitol Syndrome." It was a phrase used by some legislators to describe the extreme fatigue they felt towards the end of session. (Minneapolis Tribune, February 19, 1981)

He died from a heart attack at his home in Golden Valley, Minnesota. His body was lain in state at the Minnesota Capitol in the Rotunda. His funeral was held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was buried in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Religion provided by the Catholic Bulletin, 3/21/1975.

Most recent term photo
Click to view

Map of Saint Louis Park
Saint Louis Park, MN
Total Days Served: 2305

SESSIONS SERVED

71st Legislative Session (1979-1980) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 41
Elected: 11/2/1976
Residence: Golden Valley
Term of Office: 1/4/1977 to 4/25/1979 (unfinished term)
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Veterinarian
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Finance [He died while in office on April 25, 1979.]
  • Finance Subcommittee: Education [He died while in office on April 25, 1979.]
  • Finance Subcommittee: Health, Welfare and Corrections (Chair) [He died while in office on April 25, 1979.]
  • Health, Welfare and Corrections [He died while in office on April 25, 1979.]
  • Joint Agriculture and Natural Resources/Health, Welfare and Corrections Subcommittee: Nutrition - Ex Officio Member [He died while in office on April 25, 1979.]
  • Transportation [He died while in office on April 25, 1979.]
  • Transportation Subcommittee: Rural and Commercial Transportation [He died while in office on April 25, 1979.]
  • Transportation Subcommittee: Transit [He died while in office on April 25, 1979.]
Reason for unfinished term: Death
Session Notes: He died while in office on April 25, 1979. His body was lain in state at the Minnesota Capitol Rotunda.

70th Legislative Session (1977-1978)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 41
Elected: 11/2/1976
Residence: Saint Louis Park
Term of Office: 1/4/1977 to 4/25/1979 (unfinished term)
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Veterinarian
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Finance
  • Finance Subcommittee: Education
  • Finance Subcommittee: Health, Welfare and Corrections (Chair)
  • Health, Welfare and Corrections
  • Transportation
  • Transportation Subcommittee: Public Transportation
Reason for unfinished term: Death
Session Notes: He died while in office on April 25, 1979. His body was lain in state at the Minnesota Capitol Rotunda.

69th Legislative Session (1975-1976) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 41
Elected: 11/7/1972
Residence: Saint Louis Park
Term of Office: 1/2/1973 to 1/3/1977
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Veterinarian
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Democratic-Farmer-Labor Caucus
Committees:
  • Education
  • Education Subcommittee: Educational Organization
  • Education Subcommittee: School Boards and Administration
  • Education Subcommittee: School Finance
  • Health, Welfare and Corrections
  • Health, Welfare and Corrections Subcommittee: Adult Corrections (Chair)
  • Health, Welfare and Corrections Subcommittee: Health
  • Health, Welfare and Corrections Subcommittee: Institutional Closings
  • Metropolitan and Urban Affairs
  • Metropolitan and Urban Affairs Subcommittee: Land Use and Physical Development

68th Legislative Session (1973-1974)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 41
Elected: 11/7/1972
Residence: Saint Louis Park
Term of Office: 1/2/1973 to 1/3/1977
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Veterinarian
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Democratic-Farmer-Labor Caucus
Committees:
  • Education
  • Education Subcommittee: School Finance
  • Health, Welfare and Corrections
  • Health, Welfare and Corrections Subcommittee: Health
  • Metropolitan and Urban Affairs
  • Metropolitan and Urban Affairs Subcommittee: Metropolitan Transportation
Articles & Books About
Brown, Curt. "Decades Apart, They Crossed Color Line." Star Tribune. June 12, 2016.

Smith, Dane. "Minnesota Political Hall of Fame." Star Tribune, February 8, 1992.

Foster, Jim. "Oprah, Church Make Way for Dakota County Shelter." Star Tribune, August 16, 1990, p. 8Y, 9Y.

"New Veterinary Clinic Named for Dr. B. Lewis." Twin Cities Courier, May 5, 1983.

Brown, Jeffrey. "Senate Widow Asks Worker's Compensation." Minneapolis Tribune, February 19, 1981, p. 3B, 6B.

St. George, Ozzie. "Colleagues and Public Pay Tribute to Sen. Lewis (Obituary)." April 28, 1979.



The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library has collected newspaper articles on legislators since 1973. They are available in the Library.