Advocate for the disabled, Memorial Mass set for Oct. 9 On May 13, 2020, Charles H. Newman, (Charlie), age 63, of Cranford, NJ, entered into eternal rest, surrounded by loved ones. A Memorial Mass to celebrate Charlie's life will be offered on Saturday, October 9th, 2021 at St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church, Scotch Plains, at 9:15am. Contributions to charities that honored Charlie's vision may be made to New Jersey Connect, Inc. or the Paul Jackson Fund. Charlie's life was changed forever after he broke his neck at age 16 in a high school football game. Despite being rendered a quadriplegic, he inspired every single person he met from that day forward. Whether he was using his soothing voice to give advice or calmly listening to another person's troubles, he offered perspective and resolve. His greatest mission was to raise heightened awareness to the challenges individuals with disabilities faced. After graduating Scotch Plains Fanwood High School, he went on to obtain a BS in Business Administration from Seton Hall University. He then worked for the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services before serving as the Union County Director of the Office of the Disabled in Elizabeth for 27 years until his retirement. Charlie worked with state and national advocates to push for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and attended the White House signing ceremony at the invitation of President George HW Bush in 1990. He helped coordinate a statewide conference on parking for people with disabilities which led to a change in the state law on handicapped parking placards to prevent abuse by non-disabled drivers. He further served as Chairman of the Union County Advisory Board for the Disabled and was instrumental in launching the first Job Match in 1986 to connect disabled persons to potential employers. Throughout his career he provided guidance to secure accessibility on numerous state and county projects. For 20 years, Charlie served as President of New Jersey Connect, Inc, with a mission to create affordable, barrier-free housing so persons with physical disabilities could live independently in the community with dignity and independence. During his tenure, the organization was instrumental in developing apartment units in Springfield, Linden and Plainfield. Most anyone that knew Charlie seems to recall attending at least one concert with him. He loved music and enjoyed his life. He never complained about his plight but saw his circumstances as an opportunity to help vulnerable people from any infliction. Charlie is survived by his devoted mother, Jean Newman, his sisters, Kathleen Troiano (Tom Friend), Marie Marcella (Steve), Mary Ellen Pelzer (Siegfrid), Doris Newman (Joseph Glavin) and his brother, Paul Newman, 6 nieces, 5 nephews, 5 great nieces and nephews, numerous god children, his wonderful caregivers and many close friends. He was predeceased by his father, Henry C. Newman. Charlie will be remembered for his passion to fight any injustice, his visionary leadership, advocacy, and perseverance. He was loved and respected by all that knew him. Rossi Funeral Home 1937 Westfield Ave. Scotch Plains, NJ 07076 908-322-8038
Published by The Star-Ledger from Sep. 9 to Oct. 5, 2021.