SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Scranton’s very own Santa Lew lost his life to COVID-19.
“I never in a million years thought I was going to lose him. Never,” said Maureen Williamson, Lew’s wife.
If you live in or around Scranton, you probably recognize Santa Lew. But to many, he was 76-year-old Lew Williamson, a funny man who often lost his phone.
“I’m unable to come to the phone right now. My phone is probably missing. It’s probably MIA, it usually is,” said his recorded voicemail greeting.
Maureen spent decades as Lew’s wife and Mrs. Claus. The last time she was able to talk to him was December 10th. He took his last breath on January 4th after a month-long battle with COVID-19.
“You know usually when people die, they’re terminally ill or they’re sick and you get to the point where you’re like, you know, please, let their suffering be over. This was a month of torture,” Maureen said.
She didn’t get the opportunity to say goodbye.
“I would just tell him I love him. After 45 years, I’m lost. You know? He was my other half, so I’m only half here now,” Maureen said.
Santa Lew has been the main attraction at the Santa parade in Scranton since it first started in 1993. And he wasn’t just Santa Claus. He was also a United States veteran who served his country for 18 years.
“He was in the National Guard, he was going to summer camp. My oldest son put himself in his duffle bag and said, Ronnie said, ‘Daddy, take me with you.’ that was the year he quit,” Maureen recalled.
But his biggest kept secret was how he was really just Santa’s biggest helper stationed in right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“The family and friends who knew him as two different people, remember those two people, that funny guy and Santa. And for everybody else, he will forever be their Santa,” Maureen said.
One local business owner decided to start his own initiative to help Williamson’s family. A t-shirt design is honoring Santa Lew.
“Her son called me and said ‘hey, this is what happened.’ and I said, you know what, I want to help,” Ron Augelli, owner of Talk Shirty to Me said.
So he designed Santa Lew t-shirts. You can buy a short sleeve t-shirt for $16, a long-sleeve for $18 and a hoodie for $27.
The kicker? He’s giving the proceeds to Lew’s family.
Augelli says the surprise is that “L.W.” is etched into the bottom of the beard.
He says, at the end of the day, he wanted to pay all of the love and kindness he’s received from Santa Lew over the years forward.
You can buy a shirt or hoodie at wetalkshirty.com/santalew.