Lucile Newman, an educator, feminist, scientist, humanist, mother, grandmother, wife, mentor and dear friend to many, died Oct. 11, 2013, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
She lived a long and full life at the center of many important issues of her day. From the civil rights and antiwar struggles of the 1960s, to the women’s movement of the 1970s, to the issues surrounding early childhood education, she was always a leader who pressed hard for justice.
She was born in 1930 in New York City and went to St. Margaret’s School, then received her bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1951. She subsequently received a master’s from Columbia University in 1956 and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California Berkeley in 1965. She taught at Mills College, the University of California San Francisco, the University of California Berkeley, and finally Brown University for 30 years, eventually as a professor emeritus.
First and foremost, Lucile was an academic. She was a charismatic lecturer with an inclusive, warm and engaging style. Her focus was medical anthropology, a discipline she helped to create. She brought a scientist’s rigor and love for research to her work. Always happy to question authority and orthodoxy, she wrote a number of important works, especially on early childhood interaction and learning, and led many key anthropological studies that have had widereaching impact in the discipline over the years. Her work was important, but her role as a mentor to so many women and men was central.
Lucile loved music. She knew the American songbook by heart and sang it all. Toward the end of her life, Lucile became involved with the Jamestown Community Chorus, who insisted she continue to sing with them as long as she could despite her difficulties with Alzheimer’s. Her family wishes to express its intense gratitude for this demonstration of support – simply another measure of the fiber and mettle of the community of Jamestown.
Lucile married Frank Newman, also an educator, in 1951. They had a long and madcap marriage of 53 years until Frank’s passing in 2004. She is survived by her three sons and their partners, Ken Newman and his fiancée, Jane Sigal, of Jamestown, Jim Newman and Sarah Slaughter of Cambridge, Mass., Michael Newman and Katrina Van Valkenburgh of Chicago, Ill., and two grandsons, Gage Slaughter Newman and Max Slaughter Newman, both of California.
A memorial open house will be held on Nov. 16 at 2 p.m. at the Newman house at 23 Avenue B in Jamestown.