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Norman J. Lewiston, a professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine, believed in the institution of marriage. He believed in it so much that he got married three times--without ever having the benefit of a divorce. For more than five years, the prominent doctor lived a life of deception, juggling first two, then three wives--as well as a busy schedule of teaching classes and treating patients. His complicated life began unraveling this summer when his third wife, Robyn Phelps, a nurse in San Diego, became suspicious and uncovered his secret.
In August, when the year-old physician died suddenly of a heart attack, the truth surfaced, shocking those in the Stanford medical community who knew him as a dedicated doctor and a pioneer in research on cystic fibrosis. To outsiders, the bearded, overweight Lewiston appeared as a manipulative villain who lived a lie and took advantage of women. By all s, Lewiston was intensely committed to his patients and was nationally recognized for his work in treating cystic fibrosis, a crippling genetic lung disease that often kills its victims in childhood.
Those who knew him say he was not a slick operator who was simply out for himself. They suggest that his weakness in handling his personal affairs was the flip side of his strength as a doctor: his devotion to people.
Lewiston married his first wife, Diana B. Lewiston, 51, in They lived in a modest one-story house in Palo Alto, not far from the university, and reared three children. Inhe married his second wife, Katy, at a public ceremony attended by many of his colleagues from Stanford. They, like Katy, believed that he had divorced his first wife. Inhe married Phelps. They had known each other well since the s, when they worked together at the hospital before she moved to San Diego.
Before they got married, she said, Lewiston showed her copies of what he claimed were divorce records from his earlier marriages.
Using the excuse of his medical work, Lewiston split his time among the three, following what must have been a rigorous schedule. At the end of his workday, he usually went home to Katy Lewiston, wife No. Around 10 p. Instead, however, he went to Palo Alto to the home he shared with Diana Lewiston--often leaving early in the morning to go back to Los Altos and have breakfast with Katy Lewiston. Diana Lewiston declined through her attorney to be interviewed.
Occasionally, Lewiston would take a vacation with one of his wives, but it was the holidays that could be the most demanding. Phelps said she began to hear reports Married ladies Palo Alto friends that Lewiston was seen with his other wives when he was in the Bay Area. She sought the assistance of an investigator, and in June she was crushed to discover that he had never divorced them. She sought to annul their marriage and, not wanting to see him again, negotiated an agreement through her attorney, Gregory Alford, that Lewiston would pay her a small cash settlement.
He paid the money, she said, but never ed the court papers, and so she was still married to him at the time of his death.
Phelps and Katy Lewiston, who had been friends at Stanford before their marriages, are weighing offers from all manner of publications and television producers to buy their stories. Katy Lewiston, who operates a secretarial service, has begun writing a manuscript as a record of the marriage and as a sort of therapy, according to her attorney, Jacques Dulin. Phelps said any money she receives would go to pay for defending herself in the lawsuit she expects Diana Lewiston to file. Meanwhile, Stanford auditors are attempting to sort out what Lewiston did with money under his control at the hospital.
While they have found no irregularities in grants awarded to the university, officials said they had uncovered an unusual bank in which the doctor deposited research funds.
Lewiston also helped raise private funds for cystic fibrosis research. Colleagues shudder at the thought that some of that money might have been diverted to his unusual lifestyle. But auditors have not reviewed those s. In recent months, there were s that the strain of keeping three marriages alive was beginning to catch up with Lewiston. Since early in the year, he seemed to be under great stress, Phelps said. At Stanford, it was beginning to show in his work.
About 10 days before he died, Norman and Katy Lewiston attended the annual Ross Mosier golf tournament, and as luck would have it, the doctor won the door prize: a weekend in San Francisco. All Sections.
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