Hamptons Estate Sets Gala for Reginald Lewis Foundation, Legacy
By Patrick Cole - Jun 24, 2010
As the Hamptons gala season gets going on Long Island, one of the early affairs involves a foundation and a wife’s effort to ensure the legacy of a husband she regards as “the Jackie Robinson of finance.”
Seeking to raise about $350,000 for the Lewis Museum in Baltimore, Loida Nicolas Lewis also wants to raise the profile of her late husband, Reginald F. Lewis, former chairman of TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc.
Since his death from brain cancer in 1993, Nicolas Lewis has launched the Lewis College in the Philippines, where she was born, and made a $5 million gift through his foundation to the Maryland Museum of African American History and Culture, which now bears the financier’s name.
“Unfortunately, Reginald has been forgotten,” Nicolas Lewis, a lawyer, said in a phone interview. “The young people under 35 don’t know him. For me, he was the Jackie Robinson of finance, for no person of color had done a leveraged buyout as large as he had done.”
In 1987, Lewis’s TLC Group acquired Beatrice International Foods from Beatrice Cos. for $985 million, at the time the largest leveraged buyout of an international company.
To raise money for the Lewis Museum, she will hold the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation’s third annual summer gala Saturday. The event, first held in Lewis’s hometown of Baltimore, was moved to his East Hampton, New York, estate to attract patrons in finance, entertainment and real estate who populate the area’s summer fundraising circuit.
“Very few of my friends would come to Baltimore, so we’ve decided that East Hampton will be the place for future galas,” she said.
Guests will be served broiled lobster, barbecued ribs and Long Island corn, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform. Entertainment lawyer L. Londell McMillan, a partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf who has represented Michael Jackson and Prince, will be honored. The gala’s sponsors include American Express Co. and GenNx360 Capital Partners Co., a private-equity firm.
The son of working-class parents, Lewis entered Virginia State University on a football scholarship in 1961. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1968, he practiced corporate law in New York.
In 1983, he formed TLC Group LP to focus on deal-making and leveraged buyouts. After TLC acquired Beatrice International, Lewis started his foundation in 1987 and donated $3 million to Harvard Law School in 1992.
The foundation has made grants to arts and education organizations such as Alvin Ailey, the Baltimore School for the Arts and Dance Theatre of Harlem. As the foundation expands its base of patrons, its goal is to give away about $1 million a year, Nicolas Lewis said.
The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation benefit luncheon is Saturday in East Hampton, New York, at 12:30 p.m., with tickets $550. Its “Beach Glamour” party for young patrons is from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., with tickets $250. A ticket for both costs $700. Information: http://reginaldflewis.com.