Royce Lewellen, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge, cofounder of Lucas and Lewellen Vineyards, and community leader, died on September 2, 2020, at the age of 89.
Royce Rutledge Lewellen was born in St. Louis MO to Ursul and Helen Lewellen, and raised in Jefferson City, MO, with his sister Ann. Following graduation from the University of Missouri, he moved to California where he was stationed at George Air Force Base during the Korean War. Discovering the Sierra Nevada Mountains nearby, he then worked briefly as a forest ranger before entering and graduating from the UC Berkeley School of Law. He moved to Solvang with his former wife, Judith Johnson, where they raised their three sons Mark, Mike and Dave. He was a Justice of the Peace in the Santa Ynez Valley and later a Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge, sitting in Santa Maria. He participated in many community organizations, through which he worked with his future wife of 16 years, the former Ann Foxworthy, then president of Allan Hancock College. Following retirement, he partnered with Louis Lucas to form Lucas and Lewellen Vineyards. He had a great love of backpacking, organizing annual trips until just last year, and in his later years of walking with friends and joining them on hiking vacations abroad.
Lewellen had a distinguished legal career and was motivated to find work in a small town, where he could become involved in the community, and chose Solvang. In the 1960s and 70s, he was the part-time Justice of the Peace in the Santa Ynez Valley before being appointed a Superior Court judge. In that role he was idealistic about providing competent, fair and timely service, and advocated for improved court services in the northern part of the county. He held several statewide judicial positions, notably as a Director of the California Judges Association and the California Judges Marshals & Constables Association. The courthouse complex in Santa Maria was named in his honor the Lewellen Justice Center.
He also had an accomplished business career. He was at one time a co-owner and director of Contract Freighters, Inc. (CFI), a nationwide long-haul trucking company based in Joplin, Missouri that was founded by his father. He was president of the Solvang Business Association and Solvang Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Board of the UCSB Economic Forecast Project for the Santa Ynez Valley, and one of the founders and a long-time member of the board of Community Bank of Santa Maria. Following his retirement from the bench, he partnered with local vineyard pioneer Louis Lucas to develop high-quality vineyards, forming Lucas and Lewellen Vineyards. Before long they were making highly-rated wine as well, his son Mike entered the business, and they established two tasting rooms in Solvang Lucas & Lewellen, and Toccata.
Lewellen was a strong believer in community development and recognized locally and nationally for his philanthropy as evidenced in his involvement in a wide number of Santa Barbara County organizations. He was an elected Trustee on the Solvang School Board, President of the Solvang Rotary Club, and a founding Director of Solvang Theaterfest. He later served on the Allan Hancock College Foundation Board of Directors and was a founding Director of the PCPA Foundation. His service included membership on the boards of the Santa Maria YMCA and Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara. He was a Moderator of Santa Barbara Presbytery and president and member of the Santa Maria Wine & Food Society.
He is survived by his wife, Ann Foxworthy Lewellen, his three sons, Mark, Michael and David Lewellen, and four grandsons, Carey, Bevan, Ian and Gavin Lewellen. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to the Solvang Theaterfest Capital Campaign (solvangfestivaltheater.org) or to PCPA (pcpa.org). A celebration of life will be scheduled at a later date.
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