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A quietly relentless proselytizer, Lewis departs from a discussion of his Christian activism to ask a reporter to join him for grace over lunch at Denny's. Without waiting for a reply, he bows his head and prays aloud, certain his lead will be followed.

According to those who've crossed paths with him politically, Ron Lewis has always had a way of leading where others will follow. Linda Williams, who heads the Democratic Party in Jefferson County, has run up against Lewis at several public meetings on growth issues affecting the Evergreen-Conifer area. "He's persistent," she says. "He knows how to get others who share his beliefs to line up behind him."

Earlier this year Lewis succeeded in packing a county hearing on a proposal prohibiting the subdivision of parcels smaller than 35 acres without the county's okay, says Williams. By financing a mailing to every property owner whose land might be affected--and, claims Williams, misrepresenting the proposal as a threat to the right of property owners to pass their land on to their heirs--Lewis filled the room with older ranchers and cowboy types whose very appearance generates a sympathetic resonance in any elected official with an American bone in his or her body.

"He's very smart," says Williams. "But I disagree with that Wild West attitude of his that you can do whatever you want with a piece of property you own no matter what the effect is on the general good."

"Being American should mean you can sell what you own without government interference," replies Lewis. "The Constitution guarantees free alienation of personal property."

And though it's unlikely he'll stop feuding with his neighbors who see things in a different light, Ron Lewis has a sunny faith there will in the end come a meeting of mortal adversaries on common ground. Or in it. At Evergreen Memorial Park, reminds Lewis, "it's never too late to come to the mountains.

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Richard Fleming