The Handwavin' ManDec 01, 2019 ● By Allie Spletter
About five years ago, Mr. Larry Lewis, or “the handwavin’ man,” as he is called around his neighborhood, began brightening the lives of countless people by simply sitting in his driveway and waving at those who drove and walked by.
Mr. Lewis, or “Mr. Larry,” and Ms. Delois, his caretaker and best friend, are staples in their neighborhood near Bright Elementary where they fill the hearts of little ones and adults by spending time outside and waving to passing cars. They encourage kids walking to school and anyone who drives by their home. You will not find anyone prouder to call Frisco home than “the handwavin’ man,” and his genuine smile, neighborly wave and overall positivity has touched the hearts of so many.
Mr. Lewis is originally from Gainesville, Texas, where he graduated high school in 1972 and later went on to Cook County Junior College before volunteering for the U.S. Navy. He served two-and-a-half years on an ammo ship, where his rank was private, before being stationed at Port Chicago. Mr. Lewis played basketball for the Seventh Fleet, was a fireman by trade and was later discharged in July 1975 from Treasure Island Navy Base in Calif. Mr. Lewis remembers, “I then pursued work with the government in Oakland, Calif., at the U.S. Post Office, where I worked from 1977 to 1984 and transferred to Richmond, Calif. I stayed with the Post Office until 2004, when I retired. I left there in 2004, moved to Okla. and had a home built there. I lived in Okla. for some years and met Delois about seven or eight years ago. I liked Frisco, so that is how I ended up in Frisco … through meeting her.” Mr. Lewis has three sons, two of which are in North Texas and one in Calif.
Ms. Delois was born in Plainview, Texas, and her father’s job was transferred to Celina where she grew up. She has dedicated her work through the years to the community serving in many capacities for the City of Celina, the Collin County Sherriff’s Office, as a bailiff for the courts and now volunteers for the election polls. Ms. Delois shares, “I get to see all kinds of people and it is exciting. I just love people. I love seeing someone else happy.” Of her upbringing, Ms. Delois says, “We were always friendly people, and the people we grew up around always taught us to be respectful and to speak to people, so we never saw or met a stranger – that was just instilled in me. When I met Larry, he had so many of the same qualities, and so we share that in waving to people who come by every day. The neighborhood, when I first moved here, was a little quiet. When Larry came, his waving inspired so many people that people started walking more around the neighborhood, stopped by and were so friendly!”
For the past five or so years, Mr. Lewis (Ms. Delois joins him some days) has sat in his driveway and has brought so much joy to the neighborhood and community around him. Mr. Lewis has learned that his friendly waves have not only made the days of many, but he has been an impactful two-way street, so to speak, as he has been as blessed by those he waves to and has connected with. Mr. Lewis remembers, “I felt good about being outside sometimes in the morning and just seeing people and waving to them. It got to be a way of life for me and I love it. I really do.” Though he loves being out in the mornings, when school lets out, and during five-o’clock traffic, Mr. Larry is in and out all day long! Mr. Larry adds, “It is like a daily routine and sometimes I will go early morning and again in the afternoon depending on the weather. It is an all-day thing sometimes. Mostly, I just try to be out there when the kids are getting out of school and for five-o’clock traffic and the commute. I am limited to what I can do because of my disability. I told Delois the other day that we have more people stopping by than we ever have! We had a kid whose grandpa was visiting from Miss., and I just waved like normal and the grandpa honked. The little kid said ‘Grandpa, do not honk your horn! Just wave!’ I have watched some of the kids grow up and I have some little bitty ones whose parents roll the windows down and throw their hands up to wave. Their parents will stop right in front of me and roll the window down just so those kiddos can wave.”
Mr. Lewis loves how his neighborhood has taken care of him through the years. He shares, “This is my fifth year here. There have been times our garage door was not working properly and it would get left open at night. We have had people come by and knock on that door to let us know.”
The relationships he has formed with the kids, parents, adults and passersby are the ones he cherishes the most. He has even received mementos from some of the kids. Of those small, meaningful gifts he shares, “One little girl really surprised me. It still brings tears to my eyes! She thought so much of me that she drew me a picture and wrote a note on it. To me, I just think it is a gift to be able to reach people with just a hand wave and a smile. Some people have said ‘you do not know how bad my day was until I saw you.’ That is what it is all about,” Mr. Lewis says through tear-filled eyes.
Mr. Lewis understands the world kids are growing up in and cherishes the time he is able to spend with the ones he has grown to know over the years. “Most of all, kids need an outlet other than their parents that they can talk to. I feel that reaching these kids in so many ways is something very special. When you did not have that growing up, to be able to give it is a blessing in itself,” he says of the bonds he has formed over the years. Ms. Delois adds excitedly, “And not only the kids, but the adults. We are getting so many adults stopping by saying ‘I have been passing by here for years and seeing y’all out there waving. We just thought we would stop and say hi today!’ People have always told us that we have no idea how it makes them feel, especially after a bad day at work.” Neighbors even stop by and comment on how safe the neighborhood feels just because Mr. Lewis takes the time to sit and watch out for the kids. He says, “I am looking out to make sure things are fine. If I ever see anything, I surely call.”
Mr. Lewis loves being a part of the Frisco community and loves having a positive impact. He shares, “I have been where you cannot raise your kids properly. Here, you still can raise your kids, and they can walk home from school safely. In some places, kids cannot do that.”
When asked what he most hopes kids, adults and passersby get out of his waves and smiles, Mr. Lewis says, without hesitation, “The main thing I hope they get out of my wave and smile is a sense of well-being and a loving kindness. I think us being here was not by accident. The location, the smile, the hand wave – all of it is a combination of a spiritual contact with the Lord.” Ms. Delois adds, “We hope to let them know that a smile will bring peace to an open heart that might not have known it needed it.”
Of their time here in Frisco and of making their mark on the community, Mr. Lewis and Ms. Delois share that, “From the midst of our brokenness, we still have joy and peace that surpasses all understanding. We enjoy sharing that peace with others in the community. We have restored and helped each other, and we are able to share that with others.”