Obituary: Ralph Lewis, Lewis Homes Co-Founder

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Ralph and his wife, Goldy, both former accountants, started building homes in 1955.

February 28, 2001

 

Ralph and Goldy Lewis, pictured here on PB’s December 1987 cover, when Lewis Homes was named Builder of the Year.

 

Ralph Lewis, a true legend in the home building industry, passed away in early January.

Ralph and his wife, Goldy, both former accountants, started building homes in 1955. Co-founders of Lewis Homes, Ralph and Goldy nurtured their four sons in the business (Richard, Robert, Randall and Roger) and fashioned a building empire primarily in California’s inland markets and in Las Vegas.

Based in Upland, California, the firm became the number one builder in Southern California and in Nevada. It was the largest privately held builder in the country with revenues of $685 million before being acquired by Kaufman & Broad.

Named, with his wife, Professional Builder of the Year in 1987, Lewis showed the industry how to run a successful, financially conservative family business that could still react quickly to changing market conditions.

A diversified builder, Lewis Homes built both small-acre projects and large mixed-use communities, as well as commercial, retail and industrial projects. Ralph was one of the first big builders to capitalize on infill opportunities and was active in public/private affordable housing initiatives. Lewis was always careful to capture the appreciation in land created by development. His book, "Land Buying Checklist," was a long-time NAHB best seller.

Extremely active within the industry, Lewis had been President of the BIA of Southern California, a Life Director of NAHB and chaired numerous committees. He also co-founded a BIA/SC school for builders, helped set up a pilot program of extension courses in real estate and taught at a dozen colleges.

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