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Ralph M. Lewis; Leader of Rosicrucians for 49 Years

January 24, 1987

Ralph M. Lewis, son of the founder and head of the 250,000-member Rosicrucian order, has died, it was reported Tuesday.

Lewis, head of the order for nearly 50 years, was 82 and died Jan. 12 in San Jose, although his death had gone unreported.

His father, H. Spencer Lewis, a New York advertising executive who started the Ancient and Mystic Order of Rosae Crusis in 1909, moved the headquarters to San Jose in 1927. Lewis took over the organization after his father's death in 1938.

The organization claims 250,000 members worldwide and operates the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and the Planetarium in San Jose, two of the city's largest tourist attractions.

The group traces its roots to 1,500 BC and teaches a philosophy of cosmic consciousness intended to awaken dormant human faculties and help individuals to lead a happier and more useful life, group leaders say.

"The press has the idea that we're a strange, weird cult," said Lewis, the president and imperator of the group, in an interview several years ago. "We're not. We're a study group that takes the position that human consciousness is a stream, a flow. We believe that man generally functions on only one level, but that he can function on levels higher than the objective and the subjective.

"I'm not a strong adherent of reincarnation myself. I'm not so concerned with what I may have been, or what I may be, as I am with what I am now."

Lewis is survived by his wife Margaret, two sisters and a brother.

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