It was in Lewis' nature to be intense, charismatic, exacting and, by his own account, mercurial. He determined the emotional weather in the house, and as a result, he wasn't always easy to live with.
"When he was happy, his laughter was large and infectious," Halpern writes.
"It would spread contagiously and everyone was happy with him. When he wasn't, everyone walked on eggshells. And when he was angry, I wanted to die."
Among his employees and business associates, Lewis' temper was legendary. At times, Loida Lewis says, her husband couldn't shake his bad mood upon leaving work, and blew up at home.
"He yelled and he cursed, and sometimes the girls didn't understand," she says.
"When he burst out, they thought he was being abusive. They didn't realize that as a black man in corporate America, he was slaying dragons every day. He had to vent, and where else could he do it? When it was over, it was over. I realized I couldn't take it personally."
Halpern's father might not have been perfect, but father and daughter loved one another deeply, and the Lewis women are made of stern stuff. Two recent developments have helped her lay claim to her heritage: writing the memoir and the birth of her first child.
Halpern wanted the baby, now 3 months old, to be strengthened by his family background without being burdened by unwieldy expectations. After thinking long and hard, she and her husband were inspired to name their son Calvin after a favorite writer, Calvin Trillin.
"She wants the baby to be his own person," Loida Lewis says.
"But when I heard my grandson's full name, I was surprised and very pleased. They're calling him Calvin Reginald Lewis Halpern."