Two honored with Order of the First State

by Michael Short on September 1, 2010

By Michael Short

Governor Jack Markell is shown with (l-r) Dr. Lynn Snyder-Mackler, Dr. Scott Mackler, Noah Snyder-Mackler and Alexander Snyder-Mackler. Photo provided courtesy of Brad Glazier

Lewis (right) received the honor from friend Jim Flood Sr.

Governor Jack Markell has honored an educator and an iconic Sussex County artist with the Order of the First State.

The Order of the First State is the highest honor for meritorious service that can be bestowed by the governor.

Artist Jack Lewis has spent decades as a fixture in art circles.  He, together with the late Howard Schroeder, are almost certainly the most famous artists in recent Sussex County history.

Lewis moved to Maine in the 1990’s, but tangible evidence of his work is everywhere in Delaware. Go to Bridgeville and you will see a large Lewis mural on the side of a store. Go to Legislative Hall and you will see Lewis murals painted in honor of the bicentennial of Delaware’s signing of the Constitution. Lewis is also known for teaching art to inmates at the Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown.

In a 2007 article in “Outdoor Delaware”  Joanna Wilson wrote that “reviewing (Jack’s) astonishingly prolific body of work is like traveling back through time, especially looking at the early pieces that capture many of Delaware’s now long-lost landscapes, waterfronts, farms and villages.”

“It was my great pleasure to be able to bestow this distinction upon such a deserving person, who spent so many years in Delaware sharing his wonderful gifts with his fellow Delawareans and encouraging them to appreciate the beauty of the world around them,” Markell said.

Lewis first appeared on the Delaware scene as an artist tasked with recording images from three Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps trying to control mosquitoes in 1936.

Lewis, who was born in 1912,  received the award in late August  in Maine from long-time friends who traveled to his home to present him with the honor.

On August 31 in New Castle, Dr. Scott Mackler was also honored as a recipient. Dr. Mackler continues to teach as an associate professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine a decade after being diagnosed with ALS, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Dr. Mackler has founded the only national organization to provide communication equipment to ALS patients in order to improve their quality of life.

That effort has raised $11 million to help other patients deal with the disease.

The organization is the Scott A. Mackler M.D. Ph.D. Assistive Technology Program. “Because of it, no patient in the region has gone without such critical technology for want of money,” according to a statement from Markell’s office.

The program loans expensive technology like remote door chimes to call for help, computers with voice output and other hands-free devices that can radically improve the life of a person with ALS.

The 11th annual Scott Mackler 5K run and walk will be held October 31 in Newark to raise money for the program. Dr. Mackler is a former marathon runner and the annual run draws more than 500 runners and has raised more than $1 million.

Mackler is currently working to unlock the secrets of a protein in the brain which could determine how susceptible humans are to drug addiction. In rats, the protein NAC-1 has been linked to how likely rats are to become addicted.

The Pennsylvania Gazette ran a feature on Dr. Mackler written by Kathryn Levy Feldman. In that story, Feldman quoted one of his children, Alex as saying “Watching him strive every day to lead a complete life against all odds makes our daily challenges seem like insignificant bumps in comparison. He and mom are constant reminders of everything that is right about the world, the ultimate fighters who take every punch and are stronger for it.”
The  2009 article went on to quote Dr. Mackler, when he said via powerpoint in a 60 Minutes interview  “Please don’t think that I’m an inspiration because anyone could do what I’ve done.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

[CoastalSussex] on Twitter[Coastal Sussex] on Facebook[Our] RSS Feed[Our] Email