Donald W. Lewis

Donald W. Lewis, MD


Children, adolescents, and young adults with headaches and neurological diseases have lost a great advocate, educator and physician. We have all lost a leader in clinical care, research and education, and friend in the passing of Dr. Don Lewis.

Don passed away suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage on Friday, February 17, 2012, at the age of 60.

Donald Wray Lewis was born on May 15, 1951, at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Don grew up in a Navy family and as an undergraduate, he attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD and earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in 1979. His education was followed by a pediatric residency at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital and a pediatric neurology residency at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In 1993, Don joined the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia. His clinical and research activities focused on headaches in children and adolescents, as well as other neurological diseases of childhood. His patients recall the compassion that he approached families and children while in the academic world he became a leading educator and researcher.

In 2006, he was promoted to the chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the Eastern Virginia Medical School and senior vice president of the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughter. Don was well recognized as a teacher, receiving the Outstanding Teaching Award at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2009.
Don has been a very active member of the Headache Medicine community. He was one of the founding members of the Pediatric-Adolescent Section of the American Headache Society, oftentimes presenting inspiring presentations and leading the research for several project areas. He was also the driving force for the development of the practice parameters for both the clinical evaluation and diagnosis (2002) and pharmaceutical treatment (2004) of children with headache disorders jointly adopted by the American Academy of Neurology and Child Neurology Society. He has published numerous articles that have influenced the care of children with headaches. This has been through active collaboration across the pediatric headache community. This also includes a whimsical side with articles about Tiny Tim from “The Christmas Carol” and a response to an article about Harry Potter’s headaches.

Don was a great teacher and educator. When he spoke at national or international meetings, he did a marvelous job of presenting the information to a variety of audiences, from pediatricians to headaches specialists. In his patient videos that he shared during these lectures, you could see his wonderful bedside manner come through as a caring, listening, empathetic physician.

In addition, Don was always a lively participant and storyteller in the off hour times at these meetings. One memorable story that speaks to the tenacity of his family is of his grandfather during the Galveston hurricane of 1900. As an emigrant with the rest of his family remaining in Scotland, his grandfather worked several jobs in addition to his primary job in the shipbuilding industry. One of these was as a night watchman at a bank. When the hurricane hit Galveston, his grandfather, the janitor, and the bank president locked themselves in the vault and the next morning when they opened the door the city was flattened around them. I recall the passion and mirth that Don recalled this story and the influence that he and his family had long sustained on the seas. This love of the sea also relates to his escape on the outer banks, a place that he always welcomed others to visit. I picture Don as sitting at his home, looking out over the seas, contemplating how to improve the lives of children and their families. Don will be greatly missed by all.

Andrew D. Hershey, MD, PhD, FAHS
Paul Winner, DO, FAAN, FAHS
Steve Linder, MD
Jack Gladstein, MD
Marcy Yonker, MD, FAHS
Kenneth Mack, MD, PhD
Eric Pearlman, MD, PhD
A. David Rothner, MD, FAHS