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File photo by Damion Reid/Five Boro Sports
Joe Lewinger

An assistant principal at The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica has died due to complications from COVID-19.

Joseph Lewinger, 42, served as the school’s assistant principal of student life but also taught, coached and ran the athletic department during his 20-year career.

“Now is the time to grieve and mourn our tremendous loss,” Principal Ann O’Hagan-Cordes wrote on the school’s Facebook page. “I know we 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. We will gather at some point, when our city can come out of isolation, to share our memories of Mr. Lewinger, J Lew, but for now, we pray for the strength to get through this.”

Lewinger coached the girl’s basketball team up until 2012 winning the Class D New York State Federation championship in 2002 and a Class A title in 2007. Lewinger and his wife Maura faced hardship in 2018 when their twins Madison and Jack were diagnosed with cancerous tumors in their kidneys. Both survived and developed a close relationship with the basketball team.

On Sunday, the Lewinger family issued a statement saying “the outpouring from family and friends, and so many of Joe’s current and former teachers that have shared their memories, photos and videos of their special times with their beloved teacher/coach/assistant principal is a testament to the truly amazing impact Joe made on everyone he met. While my children cannot be with you during this sad time, know that they still feel your love and embrace of your arms around them. Please take care of yourselves and your families.”

Lewinger is the second faculty member at The Mary Louis Academy to succumb to the virus last week after the current girl’s basketball coach Dave Edwards died on March 23 at age 48, according to The Tablet.

The Mary Louis Academy is providing grief counseling to the student body. There are no memorial arrangements and the family is requesting no flowers be sent.

“His love for Mary Louis was always in evidence, particularly when he referred to himself as a Woman of Dignity!” O’Hagan-Cordes wrote. “We will get through this. Unity, reconciliation, inclusive love, concern for the dear neighbor, is what we are called to do.”

Friends of the Lewinger family have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral expenses. Those wishing to donate can visit the page here.

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