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Lionel S. Lewis, 86, UB professor emeritus of sociology wrote books about Madoff scandal

July 29, 1933 – Oct. 1, 2019

Lionel S. Lewis, a professor emeritus of sociology at the University at Buffalo who in retirement researched and wrote books about the Bernard Madoff financial fraud scandal, died Oct. 1 in his Williamsville home. His family said the cause was heart failure. He was 86.

Born in Ottawa, Ont., one of six children, he graduated from high school in Los Angeles in 1951 and was drafted into the Army. He became a U.S. citizen while stationed in Germany.

Returning from service, he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., where he graduated with honors, was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was named a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. He went on to complete a master’s degree in 1958 at Cornell University, where he was named a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and received a doctorate in sociology at Yale University in 1961.

Mr. Lewis was an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Nevada, Reno for two years, then came to UB in 1963, where he rose to become a professor of sociology and an adjunct professor of higher education. He was chairman of the Department of Sociology from 1988 to 1991 and served as the department’s director of graduate studies. Retiring in 1999, he continued writing and research.

He was author of more than 150 scholarly articles and nine books on subjects that included the sociology of higher education, economic and social inequality and rational behavior. His most recent book, in 2016, “Bernard Madoff and His Accomplices: Anatomy of a Con,” was his second comprehensive examination of Madoff's Ponzi scheme. He decided to study the Madoff fraud at the suggestion of a criminologist friend.

His other books included “Cold War on Campus: A Study of the Politics of Organizational Control” in 1988, “Marginal Worth: Teaching and the Academic Labor Market” in 1996 and “Scaling the Ivory Tower: Merit and Its Limits in Academic Careers” in 1975.

He also contributed articles and opinion pieces on education and politics to newspapers, including The Buffalo News.

He received a Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America.

He was known to many in his neighborhood as an avid jogger.

He and his wife, the former Ann W. Herman, a French teacher, met in Reno and were married in 1962.

Survivors include two sons, Peter G. and Andrew P.

A private memorial service will be held.

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