Inspirational psychotherapist and change agent Josephine Bowens Lewis was born in Philadelphia, PA on August 27, 1943 to the late Bishop Joseph T. and Clara W. Bowens. Dr. Lewis was a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and a Certified Teaching and Supervisory Member of the International Transactional Analysis Association. “Jo,” as she preferred to be called, was a gifted psychotherapist, conducting workshops and consultations nationally and internationally. Jo and her husband, Mark Wise, co-founded The Center for Cooperative Change in 1983, providing psychotherapy, ongoing training programs, workshops and executive coaching and consulting as well as speaking engagements to agencies, organizations and corporations. She was a Senior Associate for VISIONS, Inc. and an Associate Trainer with the Southeast Institute for Group and Family Therapy. She also served as an editor of The Women’s Journal, past Chairwoman of the US Association of Transactional Analysis and past Board member of the International Transactional Analysis Association. Jo was the heart and soul of her family with an incredibly loving, nurturing and giving spirit. She was also a key inspiration, role model and change agent in her work, greatly admired by her colleagues and mentees. She was an unsung leader and (s)hero in her field, and thousands were touched by her empowering and inspirational approach to personal and organizational change. Jo leaves to cherish her memory her husband, Dr. Mark Wise; her daughters, Yvonna Bullard and Clarita Smith; her grandchildren, Summerlyn and Ian Smith, Isabella Mae and Ava Boes; her sisters, Marilyn Bowens, Sheila Kelsey, and Carla Bowens; and countless extended family members, devoted friends, clients, colleagues and others.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the National Kidney Foundation.
Donations can also be made to the VISIONS / Jo Bowens Lewis Memorial Scholarship to continue Jo’s work of leading others to being the change they want to see in the world.
The Memorial Service was held on Friday, July 18th at 1 p.m. at: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church 306 Peyton Rd. SW Atlanta, GA 30311. SOURCE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on July 16, 2014
When your mentor and “sister friend” dies…”
the world stops for a bit.
There’s disorientation, then movement “in circles.”
then you try to get on with the day.
Such is how my grief comes.
I’m honoring this big, HUMONGOUS loss…
humbled beyond words..
for our Queen of Love has passed.
RIP, my sister…you will be so missed on this plane.
Dr. Valerie A. Batts, VISIONS Co-Founder & Executive Director
Being with Jo throughout her life was a gift beyond measure and I am thankful for that. I fear the insanity that will reign free without her being here to tame it– a commitment that we all have to make among ourselves with the help of her big spirit. There just aren’t words to describe this loss; an irreplaceable loss and bond of love and devotion. My prayers go out.
The Honorable Angela R. Bryant, VISIONS Co-Founder
VISIONS is my family. I refer to most of you in casual conversations as my Aunts and Uncles, because that is who you are. Jo Lewis and other senior consultants have been a part of my life since I was born. How lucky I have been to be raised in a world where Jo Lewis taught and counseled; and to be loved unconditionally by Felipe Garcia. Any magic in my life has been affirmed by Joe and Glenn on the beach in Brazil where I wrote the grant that has become my contribution to VISIONS, and this community that Jo Lewis supported my Mom in building with all of you. I called the youth program the Legacy Project. I joked at the time about the reality of VISIONS having a lot of senior consultants who needed to pass down what they knew before it was too late. I was expressing some fear about the fact that I knew it was my duty to carry on this work, and that I knew I could not do it alone. I feel inspired at this time to tell you that the young people who follow in your foot steps are incredible! It is because of these young people, and you, our elders, and community members, that Jo Lewis’s wisdom will continue to live on. On behalf of the young people I thank you, and I offer my condolences and sympathy in our loss.
Jamila, Founder, The Legacy Project
Every time I think of Jo, the first word that comes to mind for me is GRACE. I feel like she always spoke, taught, listened, joked, advocated, argued, gave in (sometimes), learned and even tantrummed (her word for opposing me) — all with grace. I love her, miss her, and will continue to be counseled by the Jo inside me. I feel blessed to have shared what little space I did with such an extraordinary person.
Dr. Rick P., Associate Director of Administration
I just found out that Dr. Lewis has passed away. Please accept my most sincere condolences. We at JSI consider it at honor to have worked with her and will always appreciate the trainings she provided for us.
Myriam, Project Director, JSI
I feel blessed to have been in her presence at the retreat in NC a couple years ago. I often reflect on how she facilitated so many interactions throughout the whole retreat. I had never in my life seen someone do what she did in a such a firm, to the point, yet loving and nurturing way. I pray you will find comfort in her giant, loving, ever wise, and nurturing spirit.
Rachel F., Director of Education, The Peace Institute
I am sorry to receive this news. She is a remarkable light that will continue to shine brightly.
Rev. Da Vita M., PACE/Peer Supervision Participant
I was on a bike ride last night at sunset and passed “Bowen Road”. I was flooded with all kinds of sayings Jo taught me “(all people deserve respect non-contingent on anything” “we each are in charge of the intensity and duration of our feelings” and on and on). I recall how caringly and insightfully she held people, how funny she was, how committed she was to a safer, fairer, healthier world. I feel blessed to have known her and profoundly sad that she is gone. What a loss – I will carry her forever.
Greg G., Associate Director of Programs
I like the idea of collecting Jo-ism’s, both as tribute to her and to keep her with me/us. I have a recollection of a while back when it was not uncommon for Jo to respond “imagine that” following someone’s awareness, aha, etc.
Doug W., Senior Consultant
I am so deeply saddened by Jo’s passing. It is ironic to me that Jo has transitioned soon after Maya Angelou. For some reason, I have often linked Jo with Maya – perhaps it was their regal and captivating presence and persona. When I hear the poem “Phenomenal Woman” written by Maya, I think of Jo. Jo was a phenomenal woman. Her spirit lives on, in those of us who she has touched, during her journey on this earth…
Vincent J., Board Member
I saw on Facebook that Jo passed. I am so sorry, and thinking of both of you and others who were so close to her.
Suzanne E., Professor and Consultant
Was so sorry to hear about Jo’s passing. I will always remember her as a strong AND caring person with a profound personal knowledge about her subject and helping others through this competency. Her passing is a great loss to the VISIONS community. She will be sorely missed.
I am incredibly sad, and also grateful for what I learned from Jo. And as several of you have said, I am also committed to sharing Jo’s wisdom. In that spirit, and as my contribution to Jo-isms, I am attaching an “interview” I did with her about 7 or 8 years ago. I remember asking Jo if and when she would do some writing, and I forget her answer, but as a way to get something on paper, we decided I would interview her. The result is “The Spirit of My Father.” In the years since then, I asked her from time to time if I could share it with others. She always said, “of course”, and so I feel comfortable sharing it with all of you.
Cooper, Senior Consultant, Germany
I find it difficult to believe that Jo is no longer with us. I could always count on her wise counsel, whether personally to me or in whatever group she was in. She leaves a wide void, and I know she will be missed terribly.
Jane, Senior Consultant
Sending energy of healing and celebration to you all, the rest of the VISIONS family, and Jo’s family and friends.
Jojo J., Youth Consultant and Board Member
My condolences to the family and our community for this loss.
A Tribute to Josephine Lewis
J: Jewel, dazzling us with her brilliance for a few decades-much too few now that she is gone!
O: Outstanding in so many ways, graciously offering us all her gifts,
S: Serene, sincere, strong, superlative intuition, superb sense of humor, sympathetic,
E: Expert clinician, excellent practitioner of all theory, exuberant encourager, enthusiastic supporter of growth, enviable memory,
P: Patient, persistent, potent, perceptive, perspicacious,
H: Honest in confrontation , humorous, imaginative interventions,
I: Innately BRILLIANT, inimitable style, ingenious interventions, inexhaustible knowledge of human nature,
N: Nurturing to family, friends, colleagues and clients, no-nonsense stance when called for,
E: Eternally curious about what ‘makes us tick’ , eternally committed to help us grow,
L: Lovely face, powerfully reflecting all her emotions, lucidity of thought,
E: Explainer of complexities, exquisite intuition honed to perfection, easy going style,
W: Wise, long before meeting Dr. Wise ! 🙂 , working TA theory like nobody’s business,
I: Infectiously optimistic about change and growth,
S: Surreal clarity , succinct delivery, soft enveloping hugs .
I MISS YOU MY JO JO !
I’m so sorry to hear of Jo’s sudden death. I was so excited about re-connecting with her in a few weeks in San Francisco. Her involvement in the LECEP at Southeast Institute will always be remembered. I am so sad hearing of her death. Thanks for sharing this information. I be able to begin my grieving process before the TA Conference.
I was looking forward to working with Jo again. She was brilliant on so many levels. I thoroughly enjoyed learning from her over the years. My heartaches. Please let her family know that I will put good chi in the universe as they (and we) grieve the loss of a giant.
Jo was a very very special person, and my prayers are with all of you who worked so closely with her at VISIONS. I am truly heartbroken. She was an amazing woman who had an immeasurable impact on my life overall.
Annemarie, Procter & Gamble
I’m glad I got to experience Jo in a TA workshop, where she guided me through a particularly difficult learning with her legendary professionalism, skill, and expertise, as well as with her equally renowned tenderness and generosity of spirit. My heart is heavy for the personal loss of all who knew her well and loved her dearly. I am saddened, as well, for our organizational loss—Jo was a trusted guide and mentor to many in our VISIONS family and to the organization as a whole. She will be missed beyond words.
Carlene L., Board Member
Dr. Jo ( as I always called her) was a mighty and wonderful force in my life, and the news of her death went straight to that place in my heart where tears are made. I continue to comfort myself with these words in an African saying: As long as a person’s name is called, that person never dies. I join with all in Dr. Jo’s family, her many friends, her colleagues and mentees in calling her name. In the spirit in which Dr. Jo helped so many of us to be better and to do better than we thought we could.
Johnnetta Cole, Washington, District of Columbia
Jo and I have been friends for over 35 years. It was she who first told me that “grief comes in waves” and that certainly has been true for me since I first heard that she had made her transition. To Mark, Clarita, Yvonna, her sisters, and the rest of her family — I am stunned by what her transition means for you. She loved all of you deeply and unconditionally. I cherish her memory and will be eternally grateful that she graced my life.
Jean Latting, Houston, Texas
Like others, I took to pen to find comfort upon learning the news of Jo’s transition. What has helped me in times of loss are memories. Today I share a memory of gratitude. In her smooth as butter tone, Jo challenged me: “You have told me what my responsibility is, now what is yours?” Each group member had been asked to state at the beginning of our session what we wanted to work on. I had not declared that I needed time, nor made my wishes known.That day in Stone Mountain, Georgia, 30 plus years ago, Jo made sure I got it! I had made the three hour trip from Montgomery, with my husband, Albert and paid our couple’s fee. I could choose to just listen to others work on their issues (which was helpful), or take responsibility for getting what I joined the group for in the first place. I was expecting the therapist to take care of my needs. My take away from Jo on that day was nobody can take care of you better than you. If you want something, take responsibility for getting it! Jo’s reach was wide in the lives she touched and the knowledge she shared freely. She was a brilliant teacher and trusted mentor. May her memories provide comfort to you now and in the future.
Sophia Bracy Harris, Montgomery, Alabama
I have known Jo for 26 years. She has shaped me and my family. She lives in my heart.
Shawn Weller, Cincinnati, Ohio
My condolences to the VISIONS family who have known Jo longer and more intimately than had I. Know still, that sitting at her feet at TA101 in Atlanta last year was personally life-giving and professionally transforming. An unsung hero in this work, indeed; and the reason my last year in the VISIONS office was as joy-filled as it was! Sitting with this news, this truth, making no qualms of how slowly I am moving through life in Jo’s honor to feel the myriad of feelings found in the pink on the Feelings Wheel.
Rev. Raedorah, Web Consultant