By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
It may be old-fashioned, but it is a dream many people still hold: to start and run a family business. What could be more satisfying than earning a living while working closely with loved ones?
The answer, if you're a member of the Lewis family, is, just about anything.
Nine years ago the Lewises--mother, father, two brothers and, briefly, several sisters--began their own daycare center. "We saw that there was a real need for it, especially in Five Points, and a real potential to make good money," recalls Blaine Lewis, one of the brothers.
At first, Kid's Corner Day Care Center was successful beyond their dreams. The business quickly grew to include three buildings and, says Blaine, generated a quarter-million dollars in annual revenue. Over thirty children were enrolled.
Today, however, Kid's Corner is responsible for about as many children as you find in a mid-sized family. The business is a wreck. Although Blaine says it is bouncing back, only one building remains open.
Worse off than the daycare center are the Lewises themselves: The family business has shattered the family. In recent years, assorted members of the Lewis clan have crowded the courts with dozens of legal maneuvers directed against one relative or another. As a direct result of the various court actions, two Lewises have declared themselves bankrupt.
Doing business together has taken a huge personal toll as well. Mother and father--Doris and Sherron Lewis Sr.--have divorced after three decades of marriage. The Lewis sons, Blaine and Sherron Jr., are estranged from the rest of their family. They are even more estranged from each other. After trading assault charges over several incidents, for a brief period earlier this year both Blaine and Sherron Jr. held restraining orders against each other.
"We got along as kids. But it's one of those things where you look back and say, 'Maybe things weren't as good as you thought,'" says Blaine.
"This is about greed," says Sherron Jr.
"If you put my name in your paper in connection with Kid's Corner Day Care Center or with my former husband or sons, I will sue your pants off," says Doris.
Sherron Sr. could not be reached for an interview, and Sherron Jr. declined extensive comment. Yet the numerous court documents racked up by the Lewises amply dissect the anatomy of a family disaster.
February 9, 1988: Articles of Incorporation filed with the Colorado Secretary of State's office list Doris and Sherron Lewis Sr. and a daughter, Bridgid Lewis, as the board of directors for Kid's Corner Day Care Center. Blaine Lewis, the couple's second son, is treasurer. As Blaine explains it, his father, a career Air Force man stationed in Colorado Springs, had always wanted to start his own company--a business that would also pull his family together.
Kid's Corner begins caring for children at 2605 York Street, in a building Sherron Sr. and Doris had purchased several years earlier when one of their daughters went to college in Denver. Hoping to quickly expand, the couple also decides to buy the building next door, at 2601 York St.
1989: Kid's Corner is an immediate hit. With the center operating from 6 a.m. to midnight and plenty of parents paying the approximately $300-per-month tuition (many through welfare), the daycare center grosses $250,000 this year, according to Blaine.
Although up until this point the center has been run largely by Doris, the Lewis men determine the business might be even better off without her, as well as without the Lewis daughters, who had been helping out. In late 1989 Sherron Sr., Blaine and Sherron Jr. decide to purchase a third building for the booming daycare center--but this time, they leave Doris out of the project. The Lewis men begin to acquire 2551 York Street.
January 1990: Doris catches on and isn't happy. Although "Doris L. Lewis operated the business without [Blaine, Dad and Junior's] involvement through January 1990," according to subsequent court filings, Doris claims the three men "entered into a conspiracy to seize control of Kid's Corner, Inc. and ultimately did seize control of Kid's Corner by illegal means."
March 28, 1990: The three men file a new corporate report for Kid's Corner. It lists a fresh board of directors: Sherron Sr., Sherron Jr. and Blaine Lewis. Blaine, who claims his mom had been dipping into the till, concedes that the men orchestrated the coup without Doris's knowledge. In fact, he says, they informed her that she'd been removed from the board of directors by registered mail.
March 30, 1990: Having legally erased Doris from the daycare center, Sherron Sr., Sherron Jr. and Blaine set about removing her physically. They file for a temporary restraining order preventing her from going to the daycare center or to Sherron Sr. and Doris's Colorado Springs residence. In arguing for the restraining order, Sherron Sr. suggests that his wife has taken funds from the center and that he is fearful of "any inappropriate behavior which might be construed as a civil disturbance."
May 12, 1990: The Lewis men complete their first joint land deal. Blaine, along with Sherrons junior and senior, signs on the dotted line to purchase 2551 York Street. Sherron Sr. puts up the cash.