Groover Funeral Home at Mansion Memorial Park

1400 36th Ave East, Ellenton, FL


Lewis C Workman

April 12, 1929March 22, 2020

Lewis Workman, 90, of Palmetto, FL., went to his eternal reward in Heaven on March 22, 2020. Lewis moved from Des Moines, Iowa, to Palmetto, Florida, in 2016. Services and visitation will be announced at a later date. Lewis was born April 12, 1929, in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. His family moved to Des Moines in the early 1930’s. While in Bryon Rice Elementary School, he was very interested in acting and “show business.” He enrolled in drama classes taught by the late Kate Goldman. In the same class was Cloris Leachman. Later, he and Cloris co-starred on a local Saturday-morning radio show. After beginning high school at Roosevelt High, Lewis’s interests turned to journalism. He was co-editor of the weekly Roosevelt Roundup. While in high school, he got a job as “copy-boy” in the newsroom of the Des Moines Register and Tribune. This started his fascination with newspapers as he started collecting newspaper front pages of big historic events, eventually collecting a phenomenal collection of several hundred dating from 1914 to the present. Lewis graduated at the top of his class from Roosevelt High in January 1947 and enrolled in Drake University. He paid his entire way through college by working part-time at the newspaper office. But at Drake, his interest turned from journalism to actuarial science (life insurance mathematics). He graduated with both general honors and departmental honors (in actuarial science) in 1951. At Drake, Lewis was a member of Delta Sigma Pi and Kappa Mu Epsilon. In his senior year, he was awarded the Wall Street Journal Student Achievement Award. Lewis then worked as an actuary at Central Life Assurance Company in Des Moines from 1951 to 1989. He served as actuarial vice president of the company in the later years. While there, he was asked by the Life Office Management Association to write a mathematics textbook for the Association to use in its world-wide educational program. The textbook was a great success, and he wrote a second version for them a number of years later. Lewis taught several classes in Des Moines on life insurance mathematics for those who were preparing for the Association’s examinations. He also served on the Association’s committee preparing those examinations after he retired from Central Life. In 1997, the Association honored him with the Insurance Education Award, given annually to the one person who contributed the most toward life insurance education. Mostly as a result of his successful books, Lewis was included in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in the Midwest, Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, Who’s Who in Insurance, Men and Women of Distinction, Community Leaders and Noteworthy Americans, Men of Achievement, Personalities of the West and Midwest, and Dictionary of International Biography. Lewis married Sally Spence on February 7, 1960, and they had three children. Lewis was active along with his son Douglas in the Indian Guides organization, and also in Boy Scouts (Webelos), where Lewis was the troop leader. In retirement, Lewis and Sally became “snowbirds,” spending the winter months at their “second home” in Florida. They have been very active there in their community, serving as chairpersons of many community activities. In retirement, they also enjoyed extensive world travel, and especially by going on many cruises. They enjoyed taking their children and grandchildren with them on a number of the cruises. As a retirement “hobby,” Lewis and Sally took up “clowning.” They studied the art of clowning at the world-famous “Clown Camp” in Wisconsin for ten different years. Combining magic tricks, clown skits, and balloon twisting, they put on numerous shows at local nursing homes, schools, churches, and senior centers (always on a “volunteer” basis). They also taught “The Art of Clowning” a number of times for the national Road Scholar program. Other interests and activities included square dancing and attending many Broadway musical shows. They were regular attenders at First Federated Church in Des Moines, where they enjoyed being part of a very active Sunday School class. After moving to Florida, they enjoyed attending the First Baptist Church of Palmetto. Lewis was a member of the Society of Actuaries, the American Academy of Actuaries, the Iowa Actuaries’ Club, the World Clown Association, Clowns of America International, Korn Patch Klowns, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Justo Hijo Magic Club, Fellowship of Christian Magicians, and the Des Moines Color Film Club. Lewis is survived by his wife Sally; his two children: Diane Holt (Fred) of Cary, North Carolina, and Deborah Newby (Todd) of Palmetto, Florida; his daughter-in-law Joann Workman of Altoona, Iowa; his brother Bruce of Omaha, Nebraska; his cousin Phil Weber of Anacortes, Washington; two nieces; five grandchildren: Andrew Workman, Amy Holt, Heidi Miller (Nathaniel), Jill Pike (Adam), and Abigail Workman; and his ninth direct descendant, great-grandson Jedidiah Miller. He was preceded in death by his parents Harry and Ilah Workman and his son, Dr. Douglas Workman of Des Moines. In typical Lewis fashion, he wrote this obituary himself many years ago. He left no ends untied. He was as organized and detail-oriented as you can get. The length of this obituary represents his passion for newspapers and how special it is for him to be remembered in this form. He was as sharp as a tack, right to the very end. He was rattling off answers to trivia questions the day before he passed! His family will remember his kindness, positive attitude, constant smile, optimism, sense of humor, devotion to his wife, love of history, love of travel, and love of the Iowa State Fair. He loved meeting famous historical figures and had seen eleven presidents and shaken hands with four of them. His typical day was spent with his wife getting exercise by walking at the mall, having coffee at Chick-Fil-A and eating sugar-free desserts. He loved Sundays because that meant church and lunch with many family members and friends at Subway. We think his life can be summarized in the quote that inspired his clown name “Sparkle,” which was the final line of the Broadway play Camelot: “There are millions of drops of water in the ocean, but some of them sparkle.”


No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Lewis C Workman

have a memory or condolence to add?

Bob/Judy York

March 28, 2020

As some people journey through life, they leave footprints of kindness, love, courage and compassion, joy and faith. Even when they’re gone, the trail they’ve left behind continues to inspire us. Lewis left a beautiful trail of wonderful memories. We will never forget the sparkle in his eyes. Our prayers are with you Sally, and your family.

Gloria Havican

March 27, 2020

Tom and I have know Lewis (and Sally) for years. He was a great friend. We have traveled and cruised with them since we came to Winterset. I remember all the black teeth from Lewis's birthday party! We will love and miss him always.

Phyllis Kuik

March 26, 2020

Sally, we’re so sorry for you loss. Lewis was a good and kind man who will be missed by so many. You will be in our thoughts and prayers. Take care.
Jerry and Phyllis Kuik

Donna Simmons

March 26, 2020

Lewis (and Sally) were one of our very favorite couples at Winterset. We have many fond memories going on bus trips with them and playing Hand and Foot at the center. Even though we missed them when they left our park as snowbirds, we continued to see them at park breakfasts or church. My sincere condolences to Sally and her children. May God hold you close

Diane Beck

March 25, 2020

I met Lewis and Sally in our FBC Palmetto Sunday School class when they joined a few years ago. I found Lewis to a very pleasant but quite person totally devoted to his vibrant wife Sally. I attended plays at the Manatee Performing Arts a couple of times and can attest to his love of the arts. He really knew a lot about acting and shows.
I will truly miss him but know for sure I will see him again in heaven.

I pray God give peace and bring comfort to Sally, Debbie and the rest of the family.

Phil Weber

March 25, 2020

I was very fortunate to grow up in a close knit family during the depression in Des Moines, Iowa. Cousin Lewis was a pathfinder and inspiration to all of us in the family. I followed in his steps in 1951 as a copy runner at the Des Moines Register and Tribune, where he was regarded as a legend for his work ethic.

One distinct memory is of Lewis, sitting every night with his Father, who I always called Uncle Bob, going over his middle school and high school mathematics assignments. Uncle Bob was a graduate engineer from the University of Michigan, and I am certain his patience was a big factor the the development of a gifted mathematician.

Cousin Lewis was widely loved and appreciated for his unselfish nature and great sense of humor. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.

Rest in peace Cousin.