||Remembering Professor David Newhall, part one
RELEASED: Aug. 11, 2005
DANVILLE, KYDr. David S. Newhall, Pottinger Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus, died Sunday, July 31. Here, in the first of a two-part series, friends and colleagues remember what Associate Dean Bill Johnston aptly described as Newhall's "sincere goodness and talents
wise counsel, and cheerful outlook on life."
I have never met a better or more interesting conversationalist than Dave Newhall, and in my opinion there is no greater compliment one can give an academic. Being a great conversationalist requires that one be very well informed about current and historical events, pragmatic and well-grounded, open-minded, and acutely interested in the views of others. Dave was all of this and more. Dave had a lot to say that was worth listening to; but, more importantly, he had a divine gift for listening to others. The ability to listen, as well as to talk, is all too rare among academics. He was incredibly patient even when it was clear he did not agree with what you were saying, and he could always offer constructive insights as to where you may have gone wrong. You could talk to Dave and disagree completely, knowing full well that he enjoyed the exchange as much as you did. That kind of self-confidence can only come from someone who is very secure in the knowledge of who they are and what they believe in. I will sorely miss my conversations with Dave.
Robert Martin, Boles Professor of Economics
I met Dr. Newhall for the first time when my parents were dropping me off at freshmen orientation. He made the comment that having to deal with a second generation of Elliott's might mean it's time for him to retire. My dad [Bobby Elliott '71] laughed and they shared a few stories about the "old days," but I remember feeling a little nervous about what I was getting myself into. Dr. Newhall's History 11 class was the first I had at Centre and within a few minutes I realized that my adjustment to college was going to be much more trying than I'd hoped.
Some of my friends and I still laugh about what we call the "Newhall face." It was a face that we interpreted to mean he fully recognized that we were trying to BS our way through a question he'd asked in class. He'd scrunch up his face, often closing his eyes and then covering them with his hand. I got the face a few times and knew I was going to be in the "hot seat" the rest of the hour.
I've saved my papers from the classes I had with him and still look through them from time to time and read his comments just to remember what a joy it was to learn from him. It was a privilege to be his student.
Jamey Elliott '96, director of annual giving
My favorite memory of Dr. Newhall comes from when I first came to work at Centre as a part-time secretary in Crounse. He was writing the articles for his Women in World History book. He wouldn't use a computer, so he would type up the articles on his old manual typewriter. He would bring them in to me and have me re-type them on the computer and save them to disk so he could ship them to whomever was publishing the book. I would try to explain that it would be much easier to just type it on the computer but he said he was too set in his ways and didn't want to have to learn about a computer. I would always double space the first draft of the articles so he could make corrections between the lines. I learned a lot of interesting information about some wonderful women from typing up those articles for him.
Kathy Fallon, assistant to the director of athletics and recreation
Shortly after David Newhall retired I asked him how he was enjoying his new status as emeritus professor. He paused for a moment and said, "You know, I miss my students." Then with a chuckle he added, "But I don't miss those blue books." His love of France and all things French was extraordinary. Not a week went by that he didn't share a French phrase, proverb, or expression that he found interesting, odd or amusing. He lived so long with his research on Georges Clemenceau, the great French statesman of the early 19th century, that sometimes he began to quote him. Once, at a lively faculty meeting, he reminded us of Clemenceau's words:
"il faut deux pour faire la paix""It takes two to make peace."
Karin Ciholas, Van Winkle Professor of Language
When I was teaching French at GSP [Governor's Scholars Program] in the summer of 1989, my students and I made some French revolutionary hats as part of a celebration of the French Revolution's bicentennial. I gave one to Monsieur Newhall, who was very pleased with it. He put it right away on his head and gave me a nice warm smile. Later on, when I still had my office on the fourth floor of Crounse, I would sometimes see him with his bright red felt hat on, as he was going to teach a class or coming back from teaching one.
Marie Manheim, visiting instructor of French
Our discussions covered the waterfront, including history, war, politics, our health, our family, life and death and many other things. Being companion retirees in the Cheek House we had several discussions throughout the day. Dave was at the office almost every day, researching and writing a history of Desoto's march through the South in search of gold. We marveled at the hardships they endured.
Dave was very proud, and rightly so, of his military service in the Korean War as a medic ambulance driver. He became acquainted with the horrors of war first hand, but realized that sometimes it was a necessary evil, thrust upon us.
I greatly admire David and already sorely miss him. My last conversation with him was one week before his death, as I was leaving for a week's vacation (yes, retirees do take vacation). I told him that I would see him when I returned, and was shocked to learn that this was not to be.
I believe that he would be very pleased at the manner of his passing, in the church, listening to beautiful music. We should all be so fortunate.
Walter Gooch, former vice president for administrative services
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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