Dr. Lewis Arnow

Obituary of Dr. Lewis Arnow

Dr. Lewis Arnow of Middletown, R.I. died in good spirits and humor on Thursday, May 7, 2020 after a long battle with cancer. He was thankful for the opportunity to serve the public and for the many wonderful experiences and memories that came along with his professional life.

Lewis grew up in New Rochelle, New York and had an extremely happy childhood. He chose early on to become a pediatrician. As a youngster, he enjoyed many satisfactions, including wonderful friends who shared his fondness for sports, math and science. They were all earnest Boy Scouts and Lewis became one of the youngest Eagle Scouts in his area. He was a national Westinghouse Science Contest mention.

At 17, Lewis was hired as an assistant sports editor with his own byline for the New Rochelle Standard Star to cover all local high school sports activities. He got up early to deliver copy to the newspaper before arriving at his own morning classes. A passionate athlete, Lewis was a high school star baseball player and leading hitter. After graduation, he played semi-professional baseball with seasoned older players on one of the strongest teams in the city.

Lewis won a math and science scholarship to Harvard College, where he excelled in physics. He received a medical school recommendation from his professor, the Nobel-prize winning physicist Edward Purcell, and earned a full scholarship to Columbia Medical School.

During college summers, Lewis was the athletic director at a boys summer camp on Lake Champlain, where he managed baseball activities. At the camp’s annual father-son baseball game, Lewis “coached” New York Giants legend Leo Durocher and his 6-year-old son. Lewis humbly assigned Leo to play second base in the contest.


Lewis attended Columbia Medical School and, to save on expenses, commuted from home daily with his parents Henry and Sara, who both worked in Manhattan. As a freshman in his physiology class, Lewis proposed a physics solution to address a problem that had arisen in his professor’s research. To develop that idea, Lewis was awarded a research fellowship from the American Cyanamid Drug Company and the National Polio Foundation. He worked alongside his mentor in the physiology department for all four years of his training.

Lewis accepted a pediatric internship at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, where he fell in love with Rita C. O’Shea, a surgical nurse from Clontarf-Dublin, Ireland. She was “the most marvelous human being he had ever met.” Following his residency, Lewis proudly served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Newport, Rhode Island. The couple were married at the Naval Base Chapel and celebrated their union at the Officers Club.

For forty years, Lewis served Newport and Aquidneck Island as a community pediatrician in private practice. Besides making regular evening house calls to busy families, he would greet timid young patients with a balloon or a magic trick, offer immunizations to their stuffed animals and – in cooperation with a local stable owner – sometimes prescribed a free pony ride to accompany their medicine.

He was a member of the Newport Hospital Staff and served at various times as Chief of the Pediatric Department, President of the Newport Hospital Medical Staff, and Ex-Officio Board Trustee Member. He was a longtime Chairman of the Newport Hospital Continuing Medical Education (CME) Committee, and also Chairman of the Rhode Island State Medical Society, CME and Science Committee. He collaborated with the State Health Department, lawyers and legislators to relieve the seriously high malpractice insurance rates that had forced many physicians into early retirement. Ultimately, rates were reduced in exchange for increased Continuing Medical Education requirements. To help doctors fulfill these new requirements, Lewis organized ongoing statewide medical lectures with visiting experts and publicized a calendar of other lecture opportunities at Rhode Island hospitals. He assisted each hospital in the state to achieve its annual American Medical Association (AMA) quality certification. Lewis served terms as a School Physician, Head Start Physician, President of the Newport County Mental Health Center and President of the Newport County Medical Society. He also served as President of the Harvard-Radcliffe Club of Rhode Island and was most proud that both his sons followed in his footsteps and attended his college alma mater.


Lewis had abounding energy which he applied to a variety of personal interests.  In 1969, he created and patented a toy car that could travel freely on an electrified platform, a precursor to the remote-control toy car. In the 1970s and 80s, Lewis and his wife Rita ran a popular English riding instruction school, The Valley View Stables, at his Howland Farm.  From April to September each year, he hosted cricket matches at his home with the local St. Columba’s Cricket Club, a member of the Massachusetts Cricket League.  The team’s motto is “good friendship and sportsmanship” and he enjoyed the congeniality and the post-match barbeque feasts prepared by the home team for the visitors and their families.  He was happiest and did his best thinking while cutting the grass on his 1931 McCormick Farmall tractor.


Lewis was predeceased by his beloved wife Rita Christina O'Shea Arnow in 2002. He is survived by his devoted fiancée Brenda Leah Connors of Middletown, R.I. and Truro, MA; two sons Cornelius Arnow of Duesseldorf, Germany and Joseph Arnow of Croton-on-Hudson, New York; and three very precious grandchildren Liam, Enya and Lochlan.

A remembrance has not been scheduled due to current public health circumstances. Arrangements are coordinated by the O'Neill-Hayes Funeral Home. To share memories and messages of support with Lewis' family, please visit www.oneillhayes.com



Services will be private.

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