Lewis Dawley hails from Houston, Texas (although he doesn’t have an accent). He is the youngest of five children. As a kid growing up in Houston, he lived on a block where every house had children and he has many fond memories from those times. As a child he loved going to Galveston because it was on the water. After spending vacations there, he knew he always wanted to be near water.
One summer before graduating high school, he worked as a bellman at a local resort in Texas. He knew at that time that he loved serving others and he knew that working in hospitality was what he was destined to do for life. After high school, he landed a front desk position at a local Houston Marriot hotel. In the early 1990s, Lewis transferred to Marriot’s corporate office on the east coast in Bethesda, Maryland. He visited Rehoboth Beach for the first time while living in DC and fell in love with this seaside town.
In 1994 he met his now husband, Greg (from Pennsylvania). For 15 years, Lewis traveled worldwide for Marriott. While abroad, he thoroughly enjoyed learning about and being immersed in the European and Asian cultures. Lewis loved working for Marriott, because it afforded him the opportunity to travel to so many different countries. Lewis worked for Marriott hotels for 38 years. His takeaway from his worldwide travel was that “we are more alike than different,” and he keeps that in mind still today.
Lewis and Greg moved to Rehoboth Beach full-time in 2005. Lewis commuted back-and-forth from DC to Rehoboth for many years before retiring in the fall of 2020.
When did you start volunteering at CAMP Rehoboth?
I have been a member of CAMP Rehoboth for four years, but because of work I did not have a lot of time to volunteer. My first time volunteering was in May 2021, where I volunteered with CROP (Camp Rehoboth Outreach Program) at a food collection drive for the Food Bank of Delaware. I love volunteering because I feel it is selfless and I intrinsically feel empowered when I do so.
What do you love most about CAMP Rehoboth?
I feel that the outreach at CAMP is extraordinary. CAMP offers so many opportunities to so many. There is an abundance of programs which allows me and others to contribute and make a difference.
Of the many events held by CAMP Rehoboth, which is your favorite?
I loved the dances in the 2000s that were held at the Rehoboth convention center on the Fourth of July holiday.
Favorite season here at the beach?
I love the fall because of the Indian summer from September to October. During that time, I love going to North Shores with my dog, Wilson, a Labrador/bloodhound.
What is your fondest memory of coming to Rehoboth?
My best memories were spent with friends and family. Greg and I loved coming down to Rehoboth every other weekend and renting a beach house with a group of friends.
The LGBTQ community has made significant progress in the fight for equality in recent years. Did you expect to see this in your lifetime?
When and where I grew up (Texas), things were so different, I didn’t think progress would happen. In the early 90s, after moving to the Washington DC area and after coming out, that was when I noticed progress. In the late 90s, our families came together and spent a week together at the beach. That was significant progress in my eyes.
CAMP Rehoboth’s passion has continued to make progress. My concern for CAMP is its momentum to continue to grow with the younger generation. I am concerned about our future. There were such great strides of change made in the 90s, there was so much positive progress and growth, and we are still a strong community, I hope that the passion from those who have paved the way will continue with the next generation.
Since you began coming to Rehoboth, name the biggest change you’ve seen.
People, people, and more people.
What was your life like during the pandemic?
My favorite place to go is Gordons Pond, and I would frequently go there and hike the many trails with my Wilson. Greg and I moved to Rehoboth permanently one week before the pandemic and I was sad because we couldn’t do anything. During the pandemic what I learned most about myself is that I am a homebody and that I have a deeper appreciation of the people around me.
What brings you joy?
What brings me joy is that I love that we live in our forever town in our forever home. ▼
Karen Laitman is a member of CAMP Rehoboth’s Volunteer Development Committee.