He was the first known African American to serve in the Minnesota Senate. The first known African American to serve in the Minnesota Legislature was John Frances "Frank" Wheaton in 1899. He moved to St. Louis Park, Minnesota in July 1962. He was a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. The B. Robert Lewis House, a shelter for battered women and their children in Eagan, Minnesota, was named after him. A second Lewis House was opened in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota and then relocated to Hastings, Minnesota. The Lewis Hospital for Companion Animals in the Veterinary Medicine building on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus was named after him in 1983. It was the first time the University of Minnesota had named a facility after a black person. (Twin Cities Courier, May 5, 1983). After his death, his wife, Margaret, filed a worker's compensation claim. She felt that his heart attack was caused by "Capitol Syndrome." It was a phrase used by some legislators to describe the extreme fatigue they felt towards the end of session. (Minneapolis Tribune, February 19, 1981). He died from a heart attack at his home in Golden Valley, Minnesota. His body was lain in state at the Minnesota Capitol. His funeral was held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Mi nneapolis, Minnesota.
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