LAFCU family mourns the loss of John “Thunder” Lewis Jr.

LANSING, MI (April 1, 2016) — John Lewis Jr., known to many affectionately as “Thunder,” or “Big John,” passed away Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at the age of 81. Lewis was a long-time credit union spokesperson, board member and advocate of LAFCU and the credit union industry.

“John’s intellect and humanity will be missed by all of us at LAFCU and throughout our community,” said LAFCU CEO Robin Frucci. “He was a wonderful supporter and friend.”

Lewis was born in Fremont, Ohio, served in the U.S. Army and graduated from Michigan State University. As a member of the MSU Spartan football team, Lewis made the winning touchdown in the 1955-56 Rose Bowl game. After graduation he played in the NFL before joining the personnel department at Oldsmobile.

“John first joined our team in 1984 when he became our celebrity spokesperson introducing LAFCU’s VISA credit card program,” said Frucci. “A video of his Rose Bowl-winning touchdown was incorporated into our first VISA television commercial to great success.”

Lewis also served on LAFCU’s board of directors for 24 years.

“John lived through many injustices in his early years,” said Harold Foster, chairman of LAFCU’s board of directors. “As a black man traveling with the college football team, John was not able to stay at the same hotels or eat at the same restaurants as his white counterparts.

“John never allowed the racial injustice he faced to hold him back. He brought sound knowledge and good common sense to the LAFCU board. He also knew the importance of taking care of people and was always willing to lend a helping hand to those less fortunate,” Foster added.

“Family was very important to John. He once told a group of 5th and 6th graders from the St. Johns football team that you can always count on family through the good times and the tough times. He wanted those kids to appreciate the importance of family. John’s contributions to the community will be greatly missed.”

Lewis had a 44-year career in labor relations at General Motors, served on the Lansing Fire Board and was a member of the Delta Lions Club. A longtime member of Trinity A.M.E Church in Lansing, he served with the Sons of Allen.

About LAFCU (MI)

Chartered in 1936, LAFCU is a not-for-profit financial cooperative open for membership to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Michigan and to businesses and other entities located in Michigan. The credit union serves 74,000 members and holds over $986 million in assets. It was named a Best Credit Union to Work For in 2020. LAFCU offers a comprehensive range of financial products and services as well as an expanding complement of financial technology solutions. Members enjoy benefits such as low fees, low interest rates on loans, high yields on savings, discounts, knowledgeable employees and nationwide access to fee-free ATMs. A recipient of the national Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award for credit unions, LAFCU enriches the communities it serves by supporting many organizations and causes. To learn more about LAFCU, call 800.748.0228 or visit


Ashley Sandborn
Vice President, Publicom Inc.

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