Lew DeWitt, 53, the tenor and guitarist for the Statler Brothers country music group for more than 18 years, died Aug. 15 at his home in Waynesboro, Va. For nine years he had Crohn's disease, a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract.

Mr. DeWitt wrote one of the Statlers' biggest hits, "Flowers on the Wall," in 1965. It sold more than 1 million copies and has been recorded by about 30 other artists. In those years the group traveled with the road show of country singer Johnny Cash.

Shortly after leaving the Statlers in 1982, Mr. DeWitt resumed his career on a smaller scale with the Star City Band. He retired again in November 1989.

Mr. DeWitt said that because of his illness, life on the road "was miserable at times." At one point, his weight dropped from 213 pounds to 119 pounds.

The Statlers were "kicking around, singing gospel" when they met Cash in nearby Roanoke in 1964, Mr. DeWitt once recalled. "He saw something different in us -- something we could do to make more money."

The Statlers converted to country music, and Cash put the group in his show.

"We had two flop records before we made it big," Mr. DeWitt said. "We weren't really big in Columbia Records' eyes until 'Flowers on the Wall.' "

During the next two decades, the Statlers became one of the most widely recognized groups in country music. They won three Grammy awards and were named the top vocal group nine times by the Country Music Association.

Mr. DeWitt is survived by his wife, Judy, four children, and his mother, Rose.