Walter Simon Newman, San Francisco city leader and descendant of a pioneering California family passed away in his home on December 8 at the age of 91.
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He was a true blue (and gold) San Franciscan, adored and revered by all who knew him. He recently celebrated 62 years of marriage to his beloved sweetheart, Ellen Magnin Newman, and enjoyed every moment of each day with his three sons, Walt, Jr., Bob, and John.
Walter was known for his infectious smile, his integrity, intelligence, and commitment to family and community.
He was born in San Francisco, and as a young man became a proud Eagle Scout. He attended Galileo and Lowell High Schools before entering U.C. Berkeley and subsequently U.C. Davis to focus on agricultural studies.
Walter then joined the Army during World War II and as a Captain led his men of the 137th Infantry, Company C during the Normandy invasion. He was nearly fatally wounded and received the Purple Heart. In 2009 President Obama and French President Sarkozy awarded him the "Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur" for his service.
After World War II, Walter returned to the Central Valley town of Newman, California, which had been founded by his Grandfather, Simon Newman. While in Newman he managed the family's agricultural and land interests.
Upon meeting Ellen, he knew his future would be in San Francisco, and they married in 1950.
Walter joined his father-in-law Cyril Magnin as an executive at Joseph Magnin.
Along came his three sons with whom he shared his love of the outdoors, reading, games and music. Walt was a devoted outdoorsman, enjoying duck hunting, fishing, golf and brisk walks around Presidio Heights with neighbors.
He cheered loyally and consistently for the Cal Bears, 49ers, and Giants, and attended Spring Training for 54 consecutive years with his wife, Ellen. He always enjoyed a good domino game or painlessly defeating his sons in backgammon.
His contributions to all aspects of public life in San Francisco are legendary. He was founding Board Chair of the National Brain Tumor Foundation, President of the San Francisco Planning Commission, President of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, President of the Presidio Heights Association of Neighbors, President of the Concordia-Argonaut, President of Temple Emanu-El, and President of the Villa Taverna. He was a past-trustee of Town School, a founding trustee of University High, and remained active on the boards of The San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, NCIRE, and the Veterans Center at San Francisco City College, as well as countless other organizations near and dear to his beautiful heart.
Walter is survived by his wife Ellen Magnin Newman, his sons, Walter Newman, Jr. and John Newman, brother-in-law, Jerry Magnin, as well as "Happy" his black Labrador Retriever. He is pre-deceased by his son, Robert Magnin Newman, parents S. Walter and Anita Newman and sister Frances Newman Lilienthal. He is lovingly remembered by scores of nieces, nephews, and young cousins.
Tributes would be most welcome by the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation (2789 25th St # 2028 San Francisco, CA 94110), or That Man May See (10 Koret Way, Box 0352 San Francisco, California 94143-0352), The UCSF Foundation (PO Box 45339, San Francisco, CA 94145), or The Northern California Institute For Research And Education (NCIRE) 4150 Clement Street, 151NC, San Francisco, CA 94121 or
A Memorial Service will be held Friday morning, December 14, 2012 at 10.00 A.M. at Temple Emanu-El, Arguello & Lake Streets in San Francisco.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Dec. 12 to Dec. 14, 2012