By Patrick McCarron
Members of the local community mourned the loss of one of their leaders Thursday. Kenneth Newman of Lexington succumbed to cancer Sunday at age 64 after years of fighting his disease. He was honored during his funeral Thursday at Trinity United Methodist Church in Lexington.
Pat Hinely, Washington and Lee’s university photographer, was Newman’s fraternity brother at Washington and Lee University back in the late 1960s. He remembers Newman as a selfless leader.
“He was a guy who didn’t have to do most of what he chose to do. And what he chose to do were things that helped other people in the community,” Hinely said.
Newman graduated from W&L in 1971 before earning a master’s degree in administration of justice from American University. He went on to be the Deputy Chief of the United States Postal Inspection Service. In that position, he played a critical role in the 2001 investigation of deadly anthrax that had been sent through the mail.
When Newman retired he returned to Lexington. He volunteered frequently for the Rockbridge Area Relief Association food pantry and was a member of the Lexington Sunrise Rotary Club.
But Newman will be remembered most for playing a key role in the development of the Rockbridge Rapids, a local non-profit collegian summer baseball team that played in the Valley Baseball League. Newman was the team’s general manager since the team first played in 2009. The Rapids played its last game in August, though, citing financial pressures and lessened volunteer support for the demanding 44-game season.
Jeremy Franklin, General Manager for WLUR, was an announcer for the Rapids and recalled Newman fondly.
“He was a great man,” Franklin said. “He was devoted, energetic, hard working. It was a great experience. I’m glad I got to know him over the past few years.”
“When the season was going on, they did clinics for youth baseball; they were very involved with community events.”
Both Hinely and Newman were members of Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership society founded at W&L. Hinely remembers delivering Newman’s letter of invitation.
“He said, ‘This is wonderful. Yesterday, my wife and I were both crying because we’d been to the doctor and I was told I had to go into an experimental program. So I’m crying today out of happiness, out of joy. It’s nice to get this recognition,’” remembered Hinely.
Newman is survived by his wife Mary and a daughter and son. His family invites local residents to make donations to the Rockbridge Area Relief Association’s food pantry in his name.