Campus & Community

Margaret Nast Lewis, 101, dies

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Was a physicist, faculty member of Harvard College Observatory

Margaret Nast Lewis, 101, of Cambridge, and Salisbury Cove, Maine, died on Nov. 23, at Mount Auburn Hospital. Lewis had a long and celebrated career teaching physics at several renowned universities and colleges. She joined the faculty of the Harvard College Observatory in 1961, and remained there until her retirement in 1986.

A daughter of the late Warren Harmon Lewis and Margaret Reed Lewis, Margaret Nast Lewis was born Aug. 21, 1911, in Baltimore. She grew up and attended schools in Baltimore with her siblings, the late Warren R. Lewis and Jessica Lewis Myers. Much of her childhood was spent in Salisbury Cove, where her parents were founding members of the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. Lewis was active in her support of the laboratory, endowing the Lewis Science Lecture series named for her sister, and and funding many building and scientific endeavors. Lewis graduated from Goucher College in 1931 with an A.B. in physics. She received a Ph.D. in physics from Johns Hopkins University in 1937.

After her retirement from Harvard, Lewis taught and took classes at the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement. She published several poems and was working on a children’s book about a dragon named Fung Ling before her death. A great admirer of nature, Lewis had a particular fondness for the native flora and fauna of Mount Desert Island. She will long be remembered for feeding “Chippy,” a chipmunk she trained to eat peanuts from her hand.

She is survived by many family members. A celebration of Lewis’ life will be held in Salisbury Cove next summer. Donations in her memory may be made to the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, P.O. Box 35, Salisbury Cove, ME 04672. Funeral arrangements are being made by Keefe Funeral Home in Cambridge.