Robert Lansing Newton, 92, of Durham, CT passed away peacefully on March 20th, 2023 in his home surrounded by family.
A lifelong resident of Durham, Robert, “Bob, Bucky, Bobbie, Re-bob, Papa, Dag”, was born on July 26th, 1930 to Abner and Melvina Newton in Scarsdale, NY. He leaves behind his wife of 67 years, Emily Gastler Newton, his four children, Kyle, Kristin, Marlene (Patrick) and Charlie (Cheri), and His four grandchildren, Michaela (Brandon), Christopher, Brandon (Ashley), and Dellas (Sylvia). He was blessed with 12 great grandchildren, a great-great-granddaughter, a sister Katharine Chase (Ralph), a sister Cynthia Rovey (Ron), and numerous nieces and nephews. He never met a stranger, was so incredibly loved, and will surely be missed by all his family, friends, and neighbors. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Burwell Newton, and cousins Roger Newton and Mary Newton.
He was passionately devoted to his family and enjoyed the simple things in life. He was raised on the farm where hard work was the standard, quickly proving to everyone that he was one of the hardest working men there would ever be. He graduated from Durham High School in 1947 and attended Brown University, in Providence, RI. He studied and played basketball there for 2 years before returning home to work on the farm. He spent the majority of his working life at Pratt & Whitney until his retirement after 35 years. When he had downtime, he drove the school bus for local Durham and Middletown school systems and delivered goods for multiple delivery companies, including bulk mail for the U.S. Postal Service. If you ever had the opportunity to take a ride with him and just happen to mention how he nonchalantly drove in the middle of the road, he would always put on a big grin and justify it by saying, “I pay taxes on both sides!”
The outdoors was his favorite place and he would spend the warmer months out in the fields baling hay and planting corn with his good friend, Walt Herzig, while also teaching many of the younger generations what hard work really looked like. If you have ever worked with him, you more than likely know how to operate at least one piece of farm equipment and how much a bale of hay weighs. If you have ever attempted to catch one of those hay bales that he had thrown to you into the back of the wagon, then you definitely knew how much one weighed. Being an avid fan of most sports, he spent a lot of evenings rooting for the Boston Red Sox. He enjoyed tending to the horses and cows, that frequently grazed out in the fields around the barn, whether they belonged to him or not. He loved watching, riding and assisting with training horses. He was a dedicated father and loving husband to his wife, Emily, and often times, with sweet reluctance, he could be found helping her with various landscape projects around their beautiful yard, making it the showcase and venue of many garden parties and picnics.
He spent the colder months gathering wood for the stove to keep the house warm, or as he called it, “throwing a stick on the fire”. As proof of his undeniable work ethic, he still insisted on stoking the fire right up until just days before he left us. He absolutely loved watching UConn Women’s Basketball and New England Patriots Football. There was always classical music playing in the house and if you were lucky enough, you could hear him sing some of his favorite old country music songs. He always had some Cabot Vermont Seriously Sharp cheddar cheese stashed somewhere in the house. He enjoyed apple pie, feeding the birds, chatting with friends, and had a not-so-secret love for sweets. He always had coffee cakes and various donuts in the house, jelly being his favorite. He loved an occasional whiskey sour and made sure he had eggnog for the holidays.
With a memory as sharp as a tack, we relied on him for all milestones, names, dates, and specifics of our family history. He always told the greatest stories and you never left the conversation without a good laugh and a bit more information or perspective on life than when the conversation began. He loved his tractors and was especially fond of his Kubota. He spent a great amount of his free time cruising the neighborhood, completing various farming tasks, yard work adventures, or happily offering his time and energy to his many cherished friends and neighbors. He could often be seen hauling loads of firewood, hay bales, large landscape rocks, topsoil or whatever else was needed. The children in the neighborhood had the privilege of learning and experiencing his strength and kindness and were blessed with how he treated them all as if they were his own. His grandchildren adored him and continue to instill many of the lessons and values they learned from him into their own children. Being his absolute best every day and working hard for his family, friends or helping anyone in need was his main life goal. He strived for perfection and has influenced so many loved ones around him to do the same. He was so very proud of his family and friends and made sure he would always share stories of their successes and new exciting events in their lives. He was loved, respected, and cherished by everyone who knew him, and he will be forever missed and whole-heartedly loved beyond measure. He lives in each one of us and we will faithfully continue to share his legacy.
Our family appreciates all your love and support. Please do feel free to share a story, memory or favorite photo(s) of him in the comments below. We would love to hear about your experiences with our father as well.
A graveside service and celebration of life will be held at Durham Cemetery on June 24th, at 1:00 pm.