PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — President and CEO of the Lewis Bear Company, Lewis Bear Jr., passed away Friday with his family by his side. He was 82.
Bear was the president and CEO for more than 30 years. The company was founded in Pensacola in 1876 by Lewis Bear. It is one of the oldest distributors of Anheuser-Busch and serves a dozen breweries in northwest Florida and southern Alabama.
Bear founded The Bear Family Foundation, which has donated millions of dollars to hospitals, local non-profits and charities through the years.
“To continue a family tradition of philanthropic giving through financial donations and volunteerism to our communities from generation to generation,” reads the foundation’s mission statement. “To help support quality non-profit organizations which better the lives of those with needs living in Northwest Florida.”
“There’s probably been not one individual that has contributed more to the quality of life and economic development and a better life than Lewis and Belle Bear,” Escambia County Commission Chairman Lumon May said.
“It’s a short list of folks that have done what Lewis and Belle have done,” Commissioner Steven Barry said. “It’s one thing for that generation to do what they’ve done but what they’ve done also is they’ve raised another generation that are coming right behind them.”
Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, March 9 at Temple Beth El.
Bear’s funeral will be Friday, March 10 at 10 a.m. at Temple Beth-El in Pensacola with Rabbi Joel Fleekop officiating. Interment will follow at Temple Beth El Cemetary.