Cover photo for Lewis Burke Songer's Obituary
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1933 Lew Songer 2024

Lewis Burke Songer

August 29, 1933 — February 15, 2024


Lewis Burke Songer passed away peacefully, with family by his side, on Thursday, February 15, 2024.   Lew was born in Schenectady, New York on August 29, 1933 to Leo Wilber Songer and Mary Katherine Songer (McNulty) and grew up in Scotia, New York.  As a student at Scotia High School, Lew edited the student newspaper, High Times, as well as the yearbook, The Acropolis.  At graduation, in 1951, Lew was awarded the Rotary Club of Scotia scholarship given to the boy who best fit the Rotary motto:  “Service above self.  He profits most who serves best”.   Lew also received the Althea Haight Memorial Award in recognition of scholarship, effort, school loyalty, cooperation, leadership and reliability.   

At the College of the Holy Cross, Lew edited both the school newspaper and the yearbook, served as the Director of Popular Music at WCHC, the Holy Cross radio station and was inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit Honor Society.  In 1955, Lew graduated, cum laude, from the College of the Holy Cross with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.   He received an achievement award in 1958 for his class newsletters as he had published over thirty of them in the five years following graduation.

Following his graduation from Holy Cross, Lew accepted a graduate assistantship in the Department of Economics at Boston College where he graduated, in 1956, with a Master of Arts degree in Economics.  His thesis was titled “Motion Picture Exhibition Practices in Greater Boston”.   

In September of 1956, Lew was drafted into the Army and, after basic training, was assigned to the U.S. Army Transportation Combat Development Group in Fort Eustis, Virginia as a research analyst.   He was awarded The Good Conduct Medal for exemplary behavior, efficiency and fidelity during his service from September 14, 1956 until June 20, 1958.  

In 1958, Lew was hired by the Boston City Planning Department and transferred to the Boston Redevelopment Authority.   During his three years with the authority, he worked on an economic base study of the Boston Metropolitan Area, including reports on the growth and geographical structure of real estate, insurance and finance in the Boston area.  He co-authored the Brighton and West Roxbury district plans which later became part of a ten year Comprehensive Plan and was promoted to senior planner, a role he served in until October of 1961.   

In 1961, Lew was appointed as the Public Relations Officer for the College of the Holy Cross and was quickly elevated to the Director of Public Relations where he had responsibility for college publicity, public relations, photography, advertising and the college’s publications.  During his tenure at Holy Cross, Lew coordinated arrangements for President Johnson’s visit to the campus in 1964 and served as campus chairman for the Kennedy Memorial Library fund campaign.  

In June of 1966, Lew was appointed as the Executive Vice President of the Newton Chamber of Commerce and three years later guided the first Chamber merger in New England, bringing the Newton and Needham Chambers together.  During his twenty-nine years of business community leadership, Lew served in many leadership roles and received numerous awards.   The following are the roles and awards he was most proud of.    In 1972, Lew served as the president of the Massachusetts Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (MACCE) and in 1996 he was made an honorary lifetime member in appreciation and recognition of exceptional leadership and service. Lew earned his Master of Urban Affairs degree from Boston University’s Metropolitan College in May of 1977.  In 1979, Lew was designated a Certified Chamber Executive by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, a recognition of Chamber managers who have demonstrated the highest quality of professional performance.  This designation followed a ten-year course of study at the Institute of Organization Management at Syracuse University and the Academy of Organization Management at the University of Notre Dame.   Lew also served as President of the New England Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (NEACCE) in 1981 and was presented with the Charles E. Volkmann Award in recognition of his lifetime of service to the profession.  He retired from the Chamber in 1995.  He worked part-time as a sales clerk at Sears until 2002.

Lew was proud of his contributions to his business, faith and adoption communities where he served in many roles including the following:  Treasurer and Vice President of the Mass Adoption Resource Exchange; President of the Adoption Association of Massachusetts; Vice President of the Aquinas College Board of Trustees; President of the St. John’s School Council; Member of the St. John the Evangelist Parish Council; Member and Volunteer, Voice of the Faithful; and Treasurer, Coalition of Survivors and Supporters of Clergy Sexual Abuse.

Lew, who began collecting newspaper mastheads as a teenager, donated his collection of over 5,000 newspaper mastheads, collected over 50 years, to the journalism archive of St. Bonaventure University’s Friedsam Memorial Library in 2003.  Mastheads are found on the editorial page and reveal basic information about a newspaper, including such things as the staff, circulations and its history.  

Lew is survived by his wife of over 62 years, Mary Jane (McAuliffe), who he married on July 22, 1961, and his children Julie, Eileen and her husband Dan McCarthy, Tim and Dan.   He is also survived  by his grandson Daniel McCarthy and his fiancée, Claudia-Liss Schultz, his granddaughter Hope McCarthy and her husband Mike Ciardelli and his granddaughter Mia Songer.  Lew was predeceased by his parents and his sister Marilyn.

A Funeral Mass will be held on Tuesday, February 20th at 10 a.m. at Saint John the Evangelist Church in Wellesley followed by burial at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Needham.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Lew’s memory can be made to the College of the Holy Cross, 1 College Street, Worcester, MA 01610 or

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Mass

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

Saint John the Evangelist Church

9 Glen Rd, Wellesley, MA 02481

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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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