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Where will we go for quick references and answers, now that the great Dean Lewis has retired? He served as an incredible resource to AAMA staff during his 18 years with the association, and for that, among many other wonderful things, he will be very much missed. That said, we are thrilled Dean gets to enjoy some much-deserved time with his family, especially his grandchildren!

Terri and Dean Lewis
Terri and Dean Lewis

Dean served as the AAMA Technical Manager, Training and Education, retiring at the end of 2016. We’ll miss Dean the ‘answer man’ and his voice moderating the webinar series - two of Dean’s favorite responsibilities. Since joining AAMA in 1999, Dean utilized his technical and industry experience to advance many of the programs and services offered by the association. He brought his experience in technical training to begin and advance the FenestrationMasters® professional certification program, as well as other educational initiatives.

We wanted to share some of our favorite Dean stories and memories, as well as some great pictures from over the years. Here’s what AAMA staff had to say.

Angela Dickson, Marketing Manager

Because I’m two hours behind the Schaumburg office, I knew that a call from Illinois late in the afternoon was from Dean. (He was the only one regularly working that late in the evening.) It was always a pleasure to hear his handsome voice across the line! Once the “work” was covered, we shared stories of children and grandchildren, weather reports (mine was never as exciting as his) and our shared faith in God to see us through.

What I most admire about Dean is his unwavering loyalty. I knew he would drop everything if I asked for his help, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do the same for him! I always knew he had my back, and that trust was endearing. We worked together on plenty of tough projects over the years from overly dramatic media inquiries to FenestrationMasters curriculum. But, one thing never wavered…respect. I had his, and he had mine. And for that, I will be forever grateful!

Lorraine Zimak, Association Services Assistant

I remember when I first started, Dean came over by my desk on the second day I was there and said, “Hey, she came back!” He relayed a story to me about a person that they hired that didn’t come back on the second day. He then told me that it would take a while to learn about AAMA and not to get discouraged, and if I had any questions, I should feel free to ask him. He was always a perfect gentleman holding the door, offering to help carry things, etc. Like everyone here at AAMA, he made me feel welcome and part of the AAMA family. And even though he is retiring, he will remain part of our family.

Rich Rinka, Technical Manager, Standards & Industry Affairs

I don’t know that I have ever met anyone that shared his professionalism and dedication to the job, to AAMA and our members. He was always willing to answer any questions, no matter how many times I asked them. Like we all know, he would provide information on Daylight Savings, start and end of seasons and other meteorological phenomena. When he was out, I sent a reminder of the Autumnal Equinox to the AAMA staff. I got a reply from him a short time later saying everything that I had said was correct and thanking me for keeping the tradition.

Rich Walker, President and CEO

Here are some of my experiences, with Dean, which demonstrate his willingness to help, no matter what question:

  1. We had an old police scanner that quit, and I decided to check with Dean for a recommendation. Within two days, Dean sent a list of three choices, ranked by cost, range and dependability. The unit he preferred is running like a champ on our kitchen counter. We always think of Dean when an exciting car chase materializes or when the police have to run after a perp on foot.
  2. Five years ago, I purchased a PLB (personal locater beacon) for hiking. The PLB is roughly the size of today’s smaller smart phones. It is a must for hiking in remote regions, where a cell phone doesn’t work. A PLB can pinpoint your location within 20 feet and trigger the deployment of a search and rescue team from the nearest civil defense facility.
Being unfamiliar with the calibration and testing of the PLB, I asked Dean for help. Dean couldn’t wait to examine the device and learn of its communication specifications.
The next day, we were out in the office parking lot testing the unit’s signal and batteries. You can imagine how nervous I was, because if you test the signal reception for too long, a civil defense helicopter would be in the in the air on its way to rescue two guys lost in a parking lot next to Moretti’s.
A few days later, Dean put together a package with the PLB specifications and a list of places to go in both Ohio and Chicago for repairs and the special batteries.

Julia Carlucci, Technical Standards Assistant

I’ve worked with reporters, teachers, bakers, lawyers and all sorts of people who interacted with them. I don’t think there’s anyone else who could match Dean’s passion for his job.

I never had a conversation with him that lasted less than five minutes, but they were also never a waste of time. He always had new information to share. Either something before my time or something new that he was sharing. I had times where I’d sit in his office and we would chat about the crazy customer service questions we’d get. My favorite times were when I’d have customer service questions and he would tell me I had the right answer but he always had more information to provide. When I first started, I didn’t understand a lot (probably next to nothing really) about fenestration, but whenever Dean explained things, it made sense without feeling like he dumbed it down or was talking down to me.

He was also unfailingly polite. Early on when Dean learned that I walked home from the old office he would take his smoke break at the same time and go down and outside with me when I left. I’m pretty sure he would watch me until I was out of sight.

Kaydeen Laird, Senior Meetings Coordinator

What I really love most about Dean is how much of a gentleman he is. He would never let one of us ladies go through the door without holding it, if he was close by. Or, if we needed to move boxes, fix eyewear or anything at all really, he would offer to help us out.

It was also pretty funny when he would wear a new shirt or get a haircut; if one us didn’t notice, he would point it out and lovingly chastise us for not saying anything. The funny part is, many times the new shirt would be white, just like the others he wore, so it wasn’t easy to tell if it was new!

In the office, he was the one male in a sea of female co-workers, and he handled it pretty graciously (especially at the staff parties when sometimes the conversations went extremely female specific). I will miss his humor, mind and very valid opinions. He was an integral part of AAMA for a long time and will continue to be, even though he will not be around day-to-day.

Kristin Dahlstrom, Retired AAMA Staffer

Dean is a man unto himself and a dear soul. The first thing that comes to mind are his endless walks around the building - rain, sleet, snow or sunshine, below freezing temps or a heat wave, smoking those endless cigarettes while he coughed his head off. And he wouldn't quit! And, the lunches he brought from home, every day!

Aside from knowing there would always be fresh coffee, I could always depend on a kind word and friendly conversation whenever Dean was around. He was always welcoming every time I had a question and never put me off. He was always interested in what I had to say, and anything happening in my life. He holds down the fort no matter what and is the most loving and considerate man I ever worked with. His tidbits of information regarding the world around us were at his fingertips, and he astounded me with some of his pronouncements. I say Rah Rah for Deano!

Florica Vlad, Senior Coordinator, Committee Meetings

I had the honor and pleasure to work with Dean for 10 years. As my desk was just out of his office, I’ve learned many things by listening to his phone conversations, had some very good laughs, and often scared him with my unexpected presence in his office by asking him a technical question where he would always finish by saying “sorry for the long answer to your short question.” Well, I am missing those conversations and learning lessons from my professor Dean.

Brilliant smart, funny, impatient with people with heavy accents or broken printing equipment, Dean will always be the “professor” that everyone loved and learned from. I first heard about Radio Shack from him. He taught me a neat method of tucking in dress shirts that now everyone in my family is using it. Dean bought pliers for me so I can easily cut the cable ties off my conference shipment boxes. My favorite expression of his will remain “I’ll be darned!” And finally, thank you, Dean, for the outstanding life lessons I had the pleasure of learning from you!

Florence Nicolici, Meetings Manager

There are many stories over the years with Dean as his office was very close to mine, and we shared many late hours in the office. We have similar morals. Dean is very intelligent and has a great sense of (dry) humor. He just made me laugh. Here are some:

  • He has lots of sayings….“I’ll be darned,” “You don’t say?” and “shark burgers” instead of fish sandwiches from McDonalds. When putting someone on hold, he would say to them “stand-by.”
  • Ham radio – He is very passionate and is one of very few who still uses Morse code; usually on Mondays, he would give me a report on what country he was able to reach.
  • Dean’s dress is very basic – He wore a white shirt and solid khaki, black or navy pants. I always teased him that he would look so handsome if he added color to his wardrobe. So, once in a while, he would wear a solid light color blue shirt! The funny part is when he would wear a new white shirt – he would come in my office and ask, “I don’t understand why you haven’t noticed my new shirt?”
    • Dean loves to wear a hat and is very particular about his hats. He would consult with us to make sure the hat is a good fit for him.
  • Dean was pretty much the only male in the office full of females. Many times in the kitchen – while the ladies were talking “girl stuff” – Dean would walk in and hear some words being used that put him in an embarrassing situation…very awkward moment!
  • Dean is very much a gentleman. He would never just walk by and not offer to help – especially a female, carrying/lifting something, hanging something on a wall, opening/closing a door. Numerous times, when I stayed late in the office, he would walk me to my car to make sure I was safe. And, of course, help me carry things.
  • Dean was always willing to help if needed.

I sincerely miss Dean – he is a very caring man.

Melissa McCord, Senior Accountant

Dean was always a gentleman offering to change the water in the kitchen or going to get paper for the printer. When I think of Dean, he was always in his brown pants and white button down shirt. Maybe on occasion he would throw in a different color shirt, just to see if anyone was paying attention.

Janice Yglesias, Association Services Director

Below are “a few of my favorite things” about Dean:

  • “Salad is what food eats”
  • Loves fettucine alfredo with meatballs, especially with a good burgundy wine
  • Prefers not to venture into the realm of “recreational eating”
  • Prefers donuts for breakfast – always wished they would have been a staple at AAMA conferences
  • CCMC – Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee (had to throw in an acronym)
  • Midnight (or later) international ham radio sessions
  • Better weather explanations than Tom Skilling (WGN, for those who don’t know Chicago’s weather king)
  • “Belt and suspenders”
  • No one wears a hat better than Dean!

Meryl Williams, Communications Coordinator

Shortly after I started at AAMA, my family’s Welsh heritage came up, and Dean asked me a question in Welsh! That was before I understood that Dean knows everything. He was amazing to work with on various writing projects because he is a rare being who is both extremely technically minded and a wonderful writer. It’s tough to master those very different skill sets the way Dean has.

Two years ago, he patiently went through every image AAMA has in its database to tell me what specific types of windows and doors they showed. The result is the comprehensive, searchable, image-tagged online database AAMA has today, which makes my job easier every week. I will miss his knowledge base, but even more so, his kind, patient attitude!

Sheila Horowicz, Membership Database Coordinator

Dean made me feel welcome at AAMA the first day I met him. It was only days later that I started calling him Dennis. And it wasn’t until another co-worker pointed out to me that his name was Dean! I was confusing his name with a co-worker from my previous job. Dean was so polite that he didn’t even bother to correct me. That’s just the type of man he is.

Below are some of the many things that remind me of what the name Dean Lewis stands for:

  • Devoted Husband, Father and Grandfather and Dedicated employee
  • Educator and information guru about anything and everything
  • Avid coffee drinker
  • Number one in responding to customer service inquiries

  • Lunchroom dishwasher operator
  • Exemplifies AAMA’s core values
  • Webinar “Voice of Radio AAMA”
  • Instrumental with resolving specific membership renewals and dues collections
  • Storm watcher and weather informant

Michelle Gaynes, Education Coordinator

From the time I started at AAMA, I've been impressed with Dean’s kindness and his boundless knowledge on seemingly everything! He seems to know the best way to do just about anything. I remember once I was dropping off some stacks of paper in his office in preparation for a presentation he was giving in Des Moines, and I had separated the different papers with binder clips. We chatted for a few minutes during in which he fluidly reached for his own collection of binder clips to replace the ones I used, because he could tell just by looking at the stacks of paper that smaller-sized clips would fit better without leaving a gap in the black part of the binder clip. I was impressed by his perfunctory knack for perfection while he did this, and whenever I have to clip papers together now, I think of him and try to select the best-fitting clip. Sometimes it takes me a few tries but I hope over time I will be as adept with binder clip sizing as Dean! This is a small thing, but it’s a constant, happy reminder to me of Dean as someone who has the highest standards and who knows how to do things the right way. I’m grateful for the impact he’s had on my professional development and for his patience in working with me.

We will all miss Dean, but we’re excited for him and wish him the very best in his retirement!