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Hawaii Kai resident was a CNN pioneer

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John Clinton Lewis of Hawaii Kai, CNN Asia’s first correspondent, was described by colleagues as a "consummate journalist."

Lewis died Thursday at 63.

Lewis joined CNN Asia just two weeks after the start of the station in 1980. He helped open bureaus in Seoul, Beijing, Hong Kong, Bangkok, New Delhi and Jakarta, Indonesia.

He spent 18 years in Tokyo supervising news coverage of the region as a senior producer. After Japan he was relocated to CNN in Atlanta, where he worked as a senior international assignment manager.

Lewis was the recipient of two Emmys, one for his coverage of the 1987 worldwide "Black Monday" stock market meltdown and the other for his piece on Tiananmen Square.

Prior to CNN, he was the morning news anchor for Japan Cable TV, a reporter for the Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review, and wrote for the Christian Science Monitor, the Asian Wall Street Journal and Asiaweek focusing on political, security, and economic issues.

Previously, Lewis spent four years in the Army serving in Vietnam in military intelligence and earned the Purple Heart.

He left CNN in 2001 to become a visiting journalism professor at the University of Oklahoma and a senior associate with Producers International Media.

He and his family vacationed in Hawaii four to five times a year, until he finally decided to move to Hawaii Kai in 2005. He became the media relations specialist at the East-West Center and later an account supervisor at Communications Pacific, where he spent the last three years.

"He always saw the humor in everything," said Communications Pacific Chief Executive Officer Kitty Lagareta. She met Lewis six years ago as a volunteer at the East-West Center. "He was a great mentor to all people and a kind, giving person."

Other than writing, Lewis enjoyed playing golf, watching movies and reading books. He recently published an action-thriller fiction novel called "The Yen Conspiracy."

Lewis was born in Cincinnati.

He is survived by wife Reiko of Hawaii Kai, son John Jr. of Tokyo and his favorite felines, Beavis and Genki.

Lewis’ memorial service will be held next Wednesday at Nuuanu Memorial Park at 5 p.m. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. To donate, call 800-628-0028 or visit aspca.org.

 

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