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'Uncertain' star, Caddo Lake fishing 'legend' Henry Lewis, 78, dies

By Bridget Ortigo
May 10, 2017 at 4 a.m.

Henry Lewis in Uncertain film.

Uncertain fishing guide, "local legend" and recent film star Henry Lewis took his last fishing trip Sunday on the cypress covered waters of his beloved Caddo Lake.

Lewis, 78, died early Monday and family and friends said Tuesday the star of the "Uncertain" documentary died doing what he loved most.

"The day before he died, he spent the day fishing on the lake, he caught some fish and he talked with friends," Billy Carter, who operates Johnson's Ranch, said Tuesday. "He died doing what he loved. He spent more than 50 years of his life as a fishing guide out of this marina."

Lewis' life served as one of the focal points of the recently released "Uncertain" documentary, which showed glimpses of his troubled past and struggle for redemption.

"We was outlaws. That's all that we used to be. I am on the straight and narrow now," Lewis said in the film. "I know I've done wrong but I know I've done good - and I pray to God that my goodness outweighs my wrong. If you keep doing wrong, time will catch you."

Lewis' daughter Katheren "Niese" Lewis Nwakanma said she knows her dad has now found the peace he spent his life searching for and she's thankful he received the forgiveness he longed for before he died.

"When I saw my dad yesterday," Niese said after visiting the funeral home, "I knew he had reached a place of peace. His face was so peaceful - he didn't have any more wrinkles and he just looked 15 years younger. As I look back now at the events over the last six months, I see my dad was preparing for his grand exit - just none of us knew about it."

She said she believed the documentary and the subsequent fame that came with it helped her father come to terms with his past.

"I'm thankful he had realized that in order to get to heaven with mom, he needed to ask for forgiveness," Niese said. "I think his biggest thing was just forgiving himself and the documentary gave him the platform to do that. I know he had found God as his personal savior and that is my joy and my peace and comfort."

Those who knew Lewis said he is an undisputed legend on Caddo Lake so it's fitting that his last day on Earth was spent in a boat, swaying atop the lake's giant salvinia-covered waters.

"He is and was a living legend here," fellow documentary star Zach Warren said Tuesday. "People would come out for tours with Henry, and they didn't care if they even caught anything, they just wanted to go with Henry. He was a character."

Carter said there was no one in Uncertain who knew Caddo Lake better than Lewis and his presence will be greatly missed.

"Nobody fishes like he fished," Carter said. "He's the end of a generation of fishermen here. He was family here to us in Uncertain. He said he wanted to be on Caddo Lake when he died and he was about 100 yards away. I know he's been waiting to see his departed wife because everything changed for him when she died. He had a great last day here. He wished to die fishing and see his wife - if we could all be so lucky."

"Uncertain" filmmakers Ewan McNicol and Anna Sandilands said the name of the town and Caddo Lake initially drew them to Uncertain but once they met Lewis, they knew the documentary's mission would be to delve deeper.

"We decided to go on the lake and go fishing and everyone said, 'well you have to go with Henry,' so the next morning, out of the mist came Henry, rowing up like Charon the ferryman," McNicol said. "He took us out and it was a really unbelievable experience and we realized at that point, there was a bigger story here. It felt like we had gone back in time in many ways."

McNicol and Sandilands posted a statement on the film's social media page on Monday about Lewis' death.

"Mister Henry Lewis has gone fishin'. Henry was a true original, an absolute one of a kind," the statement read. "No words can really do him justice. He opened his heart to us and told his story, and for that we will be forever grateful. We will miss sitting on the dock at Johnson's Ranch with our friend listening to his stories and watching the sparkle in his wide, wide eyes. Our thoughts, admiration and love are with the Lewis family. Uncertain and Caddo Lake will never be the same without Henry, the last of The Pullers. He is a legend."

In addition to his daughter Niese, Lewis is survived by two other daughters and two sons. He was preceded in death by his wife and three other children.

Services for Lewis are set for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Texas Louisiana Baptist Association, at 2907 Karnack Hwy in Marshall. Burial will be at Sipps Cemetery, on Old Port Caddo Road in Karnack. Immediately following the burial service, a dinner and visitation for family and friends will be held at Mt. Zion Spiritual Church gym, at 2200 Pemberton Street in Marshall.

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