From a former student and lifelong friend

Shared by Elliott Black on May 22, 2019

I am heartbroken to hear that Bob has left us.  I hadn't heard the news, but I had a funny feeling this evening so I typed his name into "Google" and learned that he had passed.

I am so, SO very sorry for his entire family.

My life was intertwined and influenced by Dr. Newman in many ways.  First and foremost, I was privileged to spend a year as a student at SIEE, in the early 1970's, where I was in the second grade.  He was the first teacher who truly made me feel respected, and it changed my whole attitude toward school, education and teachers.  He took me out to lunch for our first "interview," and I was amazed by the concept of a teacher who really wanted to know what I thought, how I felt and what I was interested in.  If I then did anything right as a parent, it was due at least in part to Dr. Newman.

I believe he was also my mother's graduate-school advisor while she completed her Master's degree in education at Syracuse University, and that, in turn, also had an indelible and positive effect on me, both directly and indirectly.

I was privileged to visit his office in an old-fashioned caboose once, out by the New York State Fairgrounds if I recall correctly.  I remember being astonished by such a humble concept -- of finding something so humble and functionally obsolete, but restoring it and envisioning for it a new purpose.  It helped free up some of my own creative thoughts, and inspired me to stop being constrained by the way things are or the way they have historically been done.

Dr. Newman and I stayed in touch.  We exchanged letters several times over the years.  We were able to cross paths once while I was in college in Ann Arbor.  We shared a lingering breakfast together, talking comfortably with long pauses as we each thought about what the other had said before responding.  He commented then on how much he enjoyed the actual conversation -- a thoughtful exchange of questions and ideas, without the usual banter of frantic debate in which each participant has already stopped listening to the other (or absorbing their words) because they're too busy thinking about what they're going to say next.

I was deeply honored to be able to introduce my wife and two school-aged children to Dr. Newman a few years ago.  He and Katherine welcomed us into their home.  Even in his final years, he was bright-eyed, energetic, articulate, warm and deeply caring.  I will never forget him.

To his family -- please know that I will keep him and all of you in my thoughts and prayers.

With my deepest sympathies,


Elliott Black
Chicago and Washington, D.C.


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