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Stanford Doctor Leaves Behind Three Wives

October 8, 1991 GMT

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) _ Dr. Norman Lewiston’s wife of two years learned this summer that her husband was a polygamist, and reached an annulment settlement with him a week before he died of a heart attack, her attorney said.

But the shy doctor’s two other spouses didn’t discover his long-kept secret until they both showed up to claim the body.

″I was shocked,″ Katy Mayer Lewiston said Tuesday. ″I loved him very much and I thought he was a wonderful man.″

Aside from his three wives, the respected lung transplant specialist at Stanford University Medical School left behind questions about his handling of research expense funds.

His colleagues and family agreed that the unassuming doctor who came to Stanford in 1970 and became an expert in cystic fibrosis and transplant techniques, just didn’t seem the type to lead a secret life.

″He was very dedicated to his work,″ said Diarmuid McGuire, a spokesman for the Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital. Lewiston worked at the Stanford-affiliated institution where he wasn’t teaching pediatrics.

″He just wasn’t a person one would think of as having multiple wives,″ McGuire said.

Katy Lewiston, 44, served as Lewiston’s ″public wife″ at medical school functions. They were married in 1985.

She was listed as his surviving spouse in an obituary after he died Aug. 6 in her Los Altos home at age 52. She said Lewiston told her he was divorced.

Diane Brownell Lewiston, 52, of Palo Alto, married the doctor in 1960, bore him three children and was listed as the sole beneficiary in his will, said her attorney, Kingsford Jones.

As executor of Lewiston’s estate, she has moved to acquire a 50 percent interest in the home he owned with Katy Lewiston.

″She’s not prepared to answer any specific questions about their relationship,″ Jones said, acknowledging that the first Mrs. Lewiston apparently didn’t know of the other wives.

The doctor’s third wife, Robyn Phelps, 42, of La Mesa, said she has no claims to the doctor’s estate.

She became suspicious in May or June and as part of an annulment settled with the doctor ″for a small amount of money″ a week before he died, said her attorney, E. Gregory Alford.

″She still has lots of respect and admiration for him,″ Alford said. ″But she also feels that what he did is a crime against women.″

Stanford Medical School is investigating whether the head of the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic mishandled some funds.

The hospital hired auditors to review Lewiston’s financial records at the institution after discovering canceled checks made out to at least one of his wives from a cystic fibrosis research fund Lewiston controlled, Stanford spokesman Spyros Andreopoulos said. The audit results aren’t completed yet.

McGuire, with Children’s Hospital, said investigators also discovered the doctor had set up a private bank account for some expense funds. But so far, $30,000 of the $37,000 in that account has checked out as spent for legitimate research-related expenses, McGuire said.

″So far, everything looks like it was handled above board, but when you have a case like this there’s reason to be suspicious,″ McGuire said.