Stephen Lewis

Stephen William Lewis of Douglas County, Kansas, formerly of Hinsdale, died of cancer May 21, 2021, at his home.

Steve, 72, was born in 1949 in Oak Park, the second of 10 children born to Robert O’Dell Lewis and Verla Jeanne Schneider Lewis. He grew up in Hinsdale and attended St. Isaac Jogues Catholic School and Hinsdale Township High School before graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s in secondary education in 1971.

He married his high school sweetheart, Lorel June Rezek, on Jan. 20, 1970, at Danforth Chapel on the KU campus.

Steve taught junior and senior high school English and language arts for seven years in Illinois and Kansas, then owned and operated his own business, Soots Me Chimneysweeping, for 10 years. In 1990 he was hired as a dispatcher for Douglas County and the following year was promoted to the rank of deputy sheriff.

During his 25-year career with the sheriff’s office, he served in various positions, including the corrections division, where he supervised the kitchen and launched the inmate worker program. He moved to the training division and instituted in-house quarterly training for both the operations and corrections divisions. He also oversaw the Sheriff’s Citizen’s Academy, launched the sheriff’s Facebook page and edited the Kansas Sheriff’s Association magazine, among many other accomplishments. In 2013 he was reclassified to the rank of lieutenant. When he retired in June of 2014 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

He is survived by his wife, Lorel; his daughters, Molly (Jonathan) Glauner and Elizabeth (John) Rulifson; his grandchildren, Emma Rodgers, Lorel Rodgers, Kristina Rasmussen, Jack Rasmussen, Ray Rulifson and Rose Rulifson; his siblings, Greg, Jim (Nancy O’Connor), Connie (Roy) Culbertson, Nancy (Dan) Ward, David (Mona), Tim, Marsha (Jeff) Sebek, Andy (Juda) and Matt (Maggie Carpenter); and his 20 nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life was held May 31 in Kansas.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Family Promise of Lawrence, sent in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana St., Lawrence, KS, 66044. Online condolences may be sent at