Joseph Lewinger was an administrator and girls basketball coach at The Mary Louis Academy in Queens

By Jason Duaine Hahn
March 30, 2020 03:05 PM
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Assistant principal Joseph Lewinger — who was beloved by students and staff at The Mary Louis Academy in New York City — died of complications from coronavirus, the all-girls school confirmed in a statement on Saturday.

“Joe dedicated his life to his family: his beautiful wife, Maura, whom he adored; his son, Jack, and daughters Madison and Maeve, all three of whom lit up his world,” Principal Ann O’Hagan-Cordes wrote in a tweet shortly after Lewinger’s death.

“His love for Mary Louis was always in evidence, particularly when he referred to himself as a Woman of Dignity!” she added.

According to the New York Daily News, the 42-year-old held many roles during his tenure at the Queens-based academy, including girls’ basketball coach, athletic director and teacher.

As a coach, Lewinger won more than 100 games and led the team to two state titles in the A and D divisions. When his 4-year-old twins were diagnosed with cancer, Lewinger left the team twice before officially retiring from coaching in 2012, the outlet reported.

In her statement, Principal O’Hagan-Cordes asked the community to fight the need to gather following Lewinger’s death, and instead asked mourners to keep social distancing practices a priority.

“There will be time in the future to celebrate all of Joe’s numerous accomplishments. Now is the time to grieve and mourn our tremendous loss,” she wrote. “Once again, I know we feel the need to come together, to console each other, to hug, cry, scream and say it’s not fair… sadly, the time for us to do that as a community has to wait.”

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“We will gather together at some point, when our city can come out of isolation, to share our memories of Mr. Lewinger — J Lew — and there are many wonderful stories to share,” she continued. “But for now, we pray for the strength to get through this.”

Lewinger also served as a board of education president for Franklin Square Union schools in 2016, according to a statement from the district.

“Mr. Lewinger cared deeply about our district; he cared deeply about our community; he believed in our kids… While the loss of life to this terrible virus is tragic, the passing of one of our own hits us particularly hard,” Schools Superintendent Jared Bloom wrote. “While most of our staff are working remotely, please know that we have a team available to support staff, children, or parents who may need to talk.”

New York state continues to be dramatically impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. According to the New York Times, the state has seen 965 deaths and 59,568 cases attributed to the disease, as of Monday afternoon.

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