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Person Sheet

See: Family

Name Roy NEWTON Ph.D.
Birth 12 Feb 1904, 15 Th Ave. , Cordele, GA
Death 27 Jul 1974, Big Rapids, MI
Burial Highlandview Cemetery, Big Rapids, MI
Occupation College Professor, Author
Education BS, 1925, Asbury College; Honorary LLD, 1968, Ferris State
Religion Methodist
Father Luther Samuel NEWTON (1874-1935)
Mother Elizabeth Ellis 'Lizzie' BLACKSHEAR (1880-1978)
1 Dorothy Vernon CRAMMOND
Birth 22 Sep 1905, Newton, IA
Death 10 Jul 1981, Big Rapids, MI
Burial Highlandview Cemetery, Big Rapids, MI
Occupation Choir Director, Housewife, Reporter, Piano Teacher, High Sch
Education B.A. Music And English, Assoc. Arts, Arts And Crafts Asbury
Religion Congregational
Father Charles Chester CRAMMOND (1878-1939)
Mother Margaretha Katherine Johanna HEIDECKER (1880-1969)
Marriage 11 Aug 1927, Lansing, MI
Children: Roy (1933-1933)
James Covington (1935-2003)
David Lee (1937-)
Glen Edward (1947-)
Last Modified 13 Feb 2003 Created 15 Mar 2003 by EasyTree for Windows

Contents * Index * Surnames * Contact


Glen Newton Says:

Dear Newton Relatives,

"The evil men do lives on after them; the good is oft interred with their bones." - from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

Well, not always. I was delightfully surprised when Russ and Genevieve Brown, next door neighbors during the years I lived in Big Rapids, Michigan, sent me a clipping praising my father, Roy Newton, who lived from February 12, 1904, to July 27, 1974.

This is from Hugh Morrow’s column, “’Nuff Said”, on page 4A of The Big Rapids Pioneer, Monday, March 24, 2003. The column starts, “I am wondering how or why Woodbridge N. Ferris decided to establish a school in Big Rapids?”, then reminisces about Ferris. This is in the middle of the article:

Roy Newton graduated from Duke University I think in Durham, N.C. [Editors’ note: He attended Trinity College, which is now Duke University, and graduated with an A.B. from Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, in 1925.] There was an excellent teacher - someone who would make you look forward to attending his class! I took a couple of classes from him, business English, history of education, what else? This instructor lectured for an hour once on how “LUCK” plays a part in your accomplishments. I loaned my notes from that class to Bob Davis or Bay City or Flint and never seen them again. What a bummer?

There should be a dorm or a building of some kind named after Roy Newton. He probably taught at Ferris 30 or more years. I could tell you of a private conversation I had with Mr. Newton in the 1950’s that made a powerful impact on my life. I shall always remember his interest and help, I shall write about it one day. Newton Hall, Roy Newton Building Number One. Hey, he was so good the board should name two buildings after him Roy Newton Building No. 1, and Building Number 2, I am not kidding he deserves it, I am serious.

[The punctuation above is exactly as it is in the article.]

Dad always enjoyed visits from former students, who held him in high regard, and it was heartwarming to see that nearly 29 years after his death he is still remembered. Incidentally, there was a movement to name a Ferris building after Dad, spearheaded by Larry Martin, a faculty member at Ferris. Unfortunately, he lost out in the naming competition to wealthy donors.

Sincerely, Glen Newton


Regarding Dictionaries: (by Glen Newton, edited by James Newton)

Published in 1964, the controversial Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Dictionary was widely criticized for not capitalizing “god”. Dad wondered what precedent there might have been for this, and he soon discovered that “experts” in the history of dictionaries had been using secondary sources, not the dictionaries themselves. That got him started collecting old dictionaries, researching their contents, and planning a book on the history of dictionaries.

He never completed the book, but along the way he found a couple of kindred spirits – Gene Freeman, an electrical engineer from California, and Warren Cordell^, a vice-president of the Nielsen Corporation. Neither of them was a writer, but Warren contributed his statistical knowledge to the project by trying (unsuccessfully) to convince Dad that he didn’t need to count all the words in a dictionary; he could pick a random sampling of pages, count the words on them, and then estimate the margin of error in the mathematically-derived total.

Dad created a business card for his dictionary collection, whose first line was “Roy Newton—Books”. (Note the punctuation – an em-dash, rather than a hyphen.) After a while he got a few advertisements in the mail addressed to “Dear Mr. Newton-Books.”

A good source of old dictionaries was The Antiquarian Bookman, a newsletter for dealers in old books. By coincidence (at least I think it’s coincidence), there’s now a bookstore in Blackshear, Georgia, by that name. (Blackshear is one of our family names. Dad’s mother’s maiden name was Elizabeth Ellis Blackshear.) The newsletter was hand-typed. The most amusing issue that Dad received began with this apology:

     Letter between r and t broken. Will fubftitute f inftead.

This way of spelling words in the newsletter would be perfectly natural for the newsletter’s audience. (If you’ve read very old printed texts, you may have observed what appears at first glance to be that same substitution in certain locations within the word, but if you look closer, you’ll see that the middle crossing line goes to both sides of the vertical line if the letter is an “f” but only halfway across if the letter is an “s”.)

With a college teacher’s salary, supplemented only by income from the latest edition of “How to Improve Your Personality” and Mom’s church organist salary, Dad’s budget for dictionaries was very small. Once when he received a collect call, which he accepted in case it was important news about a family member, he was angry when it turned out to be someone calling to try to sell him a dictionary at an inflated price. There was a belief among the general populace that if it’s old, it must be very valuable. Those not in the business routinely forgot that condition, rarity, and suitability for a particular project have a major influence on the value of a book. Invariably, these were worthless to him, and the sellers wanted much more than the dictionaries would have been worth to anyone.

Unfortunately, when Warren, with his lofty income, began collecting dictionaries, it drove the market up, and after a while, the remaining books Dad was interested in were out of reach of what he could afford to pay. By then he had collected over 1600 dictionaries and his direct access to the tomes gave him an insight missed by many experts in the field. He learned, for example, that Samuel Johnson’s famous dictionary was not the first English-to-English dictionary. Indeed, a dozen or more preceded it, beginning with Robert Cawdrey’s “A Table Alphabetical …”. ^ ^

He also shared some rather amusing definitions from various old dictionaries: {ed: Some paraphrasing here}

Neither Cordell nor Freeman was a writer, so the task of putting the Magnum Opus, the dictionary history, on paper fell to Roy; but he never seemed to get around to starting it. He gave up about the same time that Warren, who had his own collection of old dictionaries, was negotiating with his alma mater, Indiana State University, about donating the entire collection. He approached Dad about purchasing Dad’s collection to include in the donated collection, which would provide an unparalleled resources for the students in Indiana State University’s Master of Library Science degree. Dad sold all except a few that he kept for his own continuing research.

See also:

From left to right: Perry, Frances, Roy, and Celia; Photo thought to have been taken between 1935 and 1937

Roy and David Newton. Thought to have been taken Oct 1941

Roy fishing. The young man behind him is not identified.

Pictures from the 1969 photo album of Dorthy Newton. The negative was in a sleeve marked “April-May 1969 S. Carolina,”  The seated person is Elizabeth Ellis Blackshear, Judging from the presence of all four of her children and the fancy table setting, we guess that this picture commemorates her 89th birthday. The standing adults are (left-to-right) Celia, Roy, Frances, and Perry.

See William Carson TOLAR Jr. - Celia Evelyn NEWTON family page for additional pictures.

Roy Newton's Magic Crystal Prank +

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