Though born in Illinois, Lewis' family moved to Mobile when he was young. His parents divorced and when his mother remarried the combined family with 10 children moved to a 40-acre farm near Silver Hill in Baldwin County. He graduated from Robertsdale High School. After a family argument he hitchhiked to California in 1969 and joined the army.
While in Vietnam, Lewis took over the duties of chaplain for his unit. After his discharge he returned to Alabama and took agriculture classes at Bishop State Community College and married Kitty O'Neal. He worked as a landscaper and machinery operator in Mobile and then Birmingham. While working in Texas he suffered an apparent brain aneurism which left him unconscious for several weeks and disqualified him from driving or operating machinery. He and his wife separated and he became homeless.
He was allowed to shelter in the janitor's room at a Southside apartment building in exchange for cutting weeds in a neighboring vacant lot. That lot became the first location of the Jones Valley Urban Farm in 2002 and Lewis immediately volunteered his skills to work the farm. He was known for his endless stories and for sharing the marbles he picked up off the ground with children who visited the site.
- Spencer, Thomas (June 7, 2009) "Garden bears honor to a man of the soil." Birmingham News