South Bend, Indiana
January 5 2007
Many Thanks to Ida Chipman for graciously allowing us to reproduce this article.

Left with his stories
Friends, family enjoy memories of Culver's Bud Lewis.

Tribune Correspondent

CULVER -- Ermil "Bud" Lewis was the best friend many a raccoon could ever have. Before garbage pickup night at the Corner Tavern, Bud would search through the Dumpster for chicken bones.

He wanted all the chicken bones to use as bait in his three raccoon traps.

He had invented and constructed his own devices.

They worked pretty much like a mouse trap, only instead of snapping a neck or vertebrae, a metal sheet slid down and trapped the coon.

All of the prisoners would then go for about a three-mile ride out into the countryside to be released.

Bud was that kind of guy. He was wily in the ways of the out-of-doors.

He was a premier mushroom hunter. He harvested the delicacies for 50 years in the same location.

The secret spot he has passed on to his children -- Jim Lewis, Mary Ann Colvin and Sandy Master -- and they won't tell.

Jim tells about one time he and his dad were mushrooming when suddenly Bud began to scream and beat the ground.

Turns out the stick beside the mushroom moved. It was no stick: it was a 5-foot black snake!

Bud loved "dawgs" -- especially, his bluetick coonhunting duo, Molly and Spec. And he loved to ride his bicycle.

He was still riding well into his 80s, sometimes as far as five or six miles a day.

Not entirely without mishaps. None of which ever slowed him down very much.

It was said that as often as twice a day, Bud would amble down to Adler's (now Osborn's Minimart) to shoot the bull with charter members John Decker, Bob Osborn, Howard Shock, Bud the Peon and Red Kowatch.

For over 30 years, Bud was a brick mason by trade.

Some of his work is present on the Memorial Chapel and Eppley Auditorium at Culver Academies.

His piece-de-resistance was working on the University of Notre Dame's "Touchdown Jesus."

He said it was like "working with pieces on a puzzle."

Bud was famous among the townspeople for his man-made tree.

He took an old telephone pole, put a Martin birdhouse on top and planted vines at the bottom. As the wisteria and bittersweet grew and wrapped themselves around the pole, they branched out into a tree.

It grew to more than 18 feet tall.

Bud loved nature. He enjoyed feeding the deer and didn't really understand why folks would want to kill them.

He loved going out into the fields, picking up corn for the birds and potatoes for the food pantry.

He liked to garden, cut wood, hang out at the Moose and tell a joke or two. Or three.

Bud's favorite author was Zane Grey. Maybe the only one. He'd read all of Grey's books multiple times.

He told folks that when he was reading Zane Grey, he "became the characters."

He was even honored by the Culver-Union Township Public Library as a winner of its summer reading contest in 1999.

Although he was 78 years over the children's age requirement -- being 83 at the time -- he was named the champion "adult" reader and was given a book bag and a T-shirt.

He had a great sense of humor and he loved to entertain his grandchildren.

A family heirloom is the Memory Jar, where each member wrote on slips of paper five memories of their grandparents, given to Bud before his death on Nov. 27.

Family members chuckle about the bedtime habit he kept for 70 years.

Seems a cousin told him that a "shot of whiskey and a glass of beer before bed -- for medicinal reasons -- was a good thing."

And so that's what he did. Every night, he would fix his beloved wife, Fern, an ice cream cone and have himself a shot of "gut-rock" whiskey with a chaser of Schlitz beer, the cheapest brew he could find.

"Toward the end, we had to take it away," his daughter, Mary Ann said.

"He kept forgetting that he had already had his toddy for the night and would be set on repeating the ritual more than once!"

For medicinal reasons.

This is a family photograph of Fern and Bud Lewis. Fern died in 2004 and Bud in November 2006.

Two of Bud Lewis' best friends were Molly and Spec, his two bluetick coon-hunting dogs.

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