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Celebrating the Music -- and Lessons -- of John Leon Lewis

On May 20th, I attended “This One Man” – an uplifting event celebrating the 50th Anniversary of John Leon Lewis as a Minister of Music. The Ivey is so fortunate to count John as a member of our team, bringing the power of music and dance to our members. Our very own Chief Operating Officer, Janet LeClair, also attended the event, where she delivered some beautiful remarks about our John. So enjoy these excerpts from Janet’s message.
– Lynn Ivey


“It’s not often in life that you meet someone who so profoundly impacts you and those around you. John Leon Lewis is one of those people.

At The Ivey we provide daily Life Enriching activities and support for individuals who have some form of dementia, primarily Alzheimer’s, as well as deliver vital support to their families. Three days per week, John brings his musical gifts to The Ivey, and his impact is immeasurable.

Most people don’t associate a Memory Wellness Center with fun, laughter and joy. However, The Ivey is unique, and John plays an integral role making it a special place for our members and their families.

John Lewis’ own mother lived with dementia, and as the disease progressed, his only connection with her was through music. She would wait longingly for his visits, and music was their connector throughout her life. John’s experience with his mother launched his foray into music ministry serving the senior population, specifically those experiencing the devastating effects of dementia.

It is often said that the gift of Alzheimer’s is that it enables you to be present – to treasure the moment, to embrace the experience and to value the human connection. So, in those special moments, how does John make our members feel?

• …by making people feel they are present, alive with every song, every crazy dance move, all uniquely for them.

• …by connecting with people so intently and so authentically – the magical way people light up with familiar tunes…by making everyone feel as if THEY are the only person in the room.

• …for members who have lost their ability to speak, through gentle prompting that enables them to sing like no one is listening and dance like no one is watching.

• …for members who can no longer recognize their spouse or adult children, music that awakens memories closed off years ago and rejuvenates their soul.

• …sensing when someone is having a difficult time – staff or member – and reaching them in a way that others cannot.

• …through warmth, welcoming and engaging ways, reluctant prospective members and their family understand and feel that The Ivey is the right fit for them.”


Thank you, Janet, for articulating lessons for all of us through your tribute to John. At The Ivey, we are constantly learning and John’s lessons reach broader than just those living with dementia. I hope you find heartwarming lessons here for peace in your loved one’s journey.