Lewis entered the public eye for his influential role in the Camp David peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
From 1977 to 1985 Lewis served as the top American diplomat to Israel, during the administrations of Presidents Carter and Reagan, the longest tenure of any US Ambassador to Israel.
After his lengthy residency in the Jewish State, Lewis headed the prestigious United States Institute of Peace. In 2011, the independent federal think tank named a hall on its grounds in his honor.
"He made interpreting America to Israel and Israel to America possible and laid the foundation for the bilateral US-Israel strategic relationship," according to a statement by the Washington Institute for Near East Peace, where Lewis was a long-time board member.
"Decades after he left Israel, Sam is still remembered by both Americans and Israelis as the standard to which all others are compared," the statement went on to say.
Lewis, an avid supporter of peace in the Middle East, fell in love with Israel and its culture during his diplomatic service. The Israeli political establishment appreciated his civility and interest in the country. When he retired from his career as a diplomat in 1985, the government dedicated a forest in his name.
Born in Houston, TX, the son of an engineer, Lewis majored in international relations and history at Yale and got his M.A. at Johns Hopkins.
Among his many distinguished roles he had served in Italy, Brazil and Afghanistan, on the National Security Council, and on the US Advisory Council of the Israel Policy Forum.