Dennis Newman was born on May 25, 1949 and was welcomed by the gates of Heaven to be with Jesus and all our loved ones who have passed before us on March 2, 2007. He was born in Trenton and grew up in Bordentown. He had a rough start in life, losing his mother shortly after his birth, and then losing his father at a young age. Lord only knows why things like this happen, but perhaps it was a blessing in disguise because he was raised with Nanny, who was always described to us as a super woman, and Aunt Jean who was dear to us all. Then, of course, Tootsie, Bill, Ray…and Aunt Margie and Aunt Dot….all the Fosters….and he later learned of how large his family was indeed when his brother/sister count raised to 9, adding Judy, Alan, Jimmy, John and Bobby, with my dad being the baby.
The Newmans – wow, what a crazy bunch. My dad was pretty mild and tame in comparison. Even though he had a hearing problem, he always loved his brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins – unconditionally.
The Fosters held a special place in my dad’s heart. Such good memories of Elizabeth Street, singing around the big tree at Christmas time, and the summer picnics – with the exception of those darn green flies.
My dad was quite the popular guy growing up, very involved with sports. He was a basketball star, and a softball star too. My dad met my mother, Gracemarie, in 1967 at Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf in Trenton. My mom used to make fun of him because he was always wearing socks that matched his shirt - whether it be blue, purple - or even yellow. My dad asked my mom out on a date, and they became high school sweethearts. He spent lots of time with my mom’s family while they were dating, playing baseball with Jennie and Lou Ann in their backyard in Pedricktown.
One day, he was driving on the road and my mom was in the passenger seat. She noticed something shiny on his pinky finger - and it was the engagement ring. They married on April 8, 1972. My dad loved his mother-in-law and basically adopted her as his own. And my mom’s family quickly became his own as well. He loved them all.
He soon had two wonderful (cough cough) children. OK, I admit, I was the challenge in the family while my sister was the angel. But I didn’t turn out too bad, and I made my amends. My dad knew how much we loved him.
He was a great father. Nobody could ask for better. Since we were little girls, we’d welcome him home from work with each of us grabbing one leg. Good exercise for him, I guess, to drag us all the way through the living room. We’d always want to get involved in certain projects with him – like gardening. He always let us believe we were helping him, when in fact, we were slowing him down. That didn’t matter to him. He wanted our help. He taught us how to pitch a ball - even left-handed and ride a bike. We played basketball, baseball - you name it. My dad did it with us.
We remember such wonderful times with him – playing miniature golf together, with Mimi hitting the ball out of the park nearly every time. The biggest skill there was to know how and when to duck. A dangerous sport in our family, but so much fun. Going out to Richman’s for ice cream. Going to Florida on a Disney vacation. I’ll never forget my dad trying to grab that Mickey doll for me that John Schneider threw in our direction.
When we were older, he had our taste in music and took us to quite a few rock concerts including Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Janet Jackson and Bon Jovi, to name a few. He'd fit in with the crowd by wearing a paper towel around his head as a bandanna, standing on the seats along with the rest of us, waving his hands in the air and screaming like a nut.
We had great times at Clementon Park. His favorite was the log flume. One particularly fond occasion was with my Uncle Phil. My dad snuck a cup onto the log flume so he could scoop up the water and attack Phil with it. The people who ran the log flume quickly reprimanded him and took the cup away. Little did they know, he had another cup hidden under his shirt. Once the workers turned away, there he was with the cup attacking everyone with water again.
He worked with the Hibbert Printing Company for many years, running a printing press. He also worked part time for the Trentonian newspaper. He worked long, hard hours and was always a very dependable employee. But after over 20 years, he developed some serious health problems and had to retire at a very early age. He loved to work, and it was a struggle for him to accept the fact that he just couldn’t do it.
Then came Julia. What an experience. My dad became Pop-Pop at such a young age, and he was so proud of being a young grandfather. Julia was raised in my parents house for quite a number of years, and they developed such a strong, special bond.
Then came the son-in-laws….Jim and Steve. They both loved him in their own special ways, and my dad was always so glad to know that he had such good son-in-laws. He loved them like they were his own children. And they loved him as a Dad. When Jim came into my life, so did his son, Justin. Justin’s a fine young man who is now in the Marines. Although my dad didn’t really get to spend much time with Justin, he always considered him one of his grandchildren. When anyone would ask how many grandchildren he had, Justin was always included.
We fondly remember my dad’s 50th birthday. On Father’s Day shortly after his birthday, we took him to Adelphia’s to celebrate Father’s Day. He was so shocked to learn that we had lied to him because there were over 50 people there to celebrate his birthday. That wasn’t the only surprise. He opened a box that had a pamphlet from the car dealership, and a key attached to it. He grabbed my mom and burst into tears, and we pointed out the brand new car with balloons all over it in the parking lot. What an awesome day!
And then there’s the time he made a chlorine bomb in his house. Of course, it wasn’t deliberate, but the bomb shook the house and knocked the laundry room door off its hinges. He was so proud to tell his neighbor who worked for the police department that he knew how to make a bomb, if they ever needed him to. While my parents were at the hospital that day, I figured it was a good time to tell them – while my dad was already in the hospital and hooked up to heart monitors - that not only was my sister having a baby….so was I. All he could think of was 2 cribs, 2 high chairs, 2 everything.
Then came Sabrina, Kayla and then finally the boy, Steven. Ahhh, that brought a whole new level to being a Pop-Pop. Quoting my daughter, Kayla, “Pop-Pop was the greatest Pop-Pop in the world”….and indeed he was. You would see his face light up every time the grandkids walked in the door. He loved hearing them call him “Pop-Pop” with their sweet little voices and they loved spending time with him. On the morning before God chose to take him, he went to a special grandparents event at Kayla’s school. Kayla was able to read my parents a story and show them her journal. I am so glad he had that opportunity. Only God knew at that time that it was the last time.
We all are so happy that we were able to spend as much time with my dad as we could and share so many good times and memories. Family get-togethers happened often. Even in the last few weeks, we’d had several. And it was great that he was able to go on several wonderful vacations with Mimi’s family to Disney World and Virginia over the years. And my dad spent so much time with Kayla each and every day, playing “plus” with her, watching Spongebob together and coloring pictures together. It’s a great feeling to know that there were so many good times.
My dad was such a goofball. He always loved to make people laugh. He couldn’t say the word “Doritos”, “Dominos Pizza” or "Ship Bottom" to save his life. They will always be “Dawdios and Donimos” to me. Let's not 'go there' with the "Ship Bottom". We are in a Catholic Church after all - but I'm sure you can figure it out. He always left goofy messages on our answering machines. He’d sing songs like, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” (although we’re glad he didn’t make a full time job of it)….or do the robot dance. Even recently, at the Superbowl get together we had at my sister’s house, he did a goofy dance, trying to follow Jennifer Lynn. It was hysterical, and I’m so glad that I have it on film. Lots of good times together. Lots.
As everyone knows, Santa was a very special role for him, and Christmas was his absolute favorite time of year. Christmas brought a special life within him. He lived for Christmas. During his years of better health, he’d have 25,000 lights displayed with over 100 figures on his large lawn. He was so proud of that, and it was fun growing up with that.
He was very devoted to Father Brian O’Neill and Joann Burns, spending 20+ years working hard for the Deaf Ministry. He participated in everything from helping out during Mass to hosting socials to being the President of Gingo - all for his love of God, Father Brian and the Deaf Community. He loved being able to contribute his time, energy and resources to support the Deaf Ministry and anything that was near and dear to him, such as supporting Bankbridge School programs in Sewell, NJ.
Although his heart was very diseased, it carried more love for more people than we could ever imagine. Everyone loved my dad. Old people. Young children. And everyone in between. Even animals loved him. His heart was so sick – but it was so pure. His heart was so weak – but so strong with love.
God is good because he took my dad quickly.
Dad, you will be missed by so many people. I know you are watching over us, protecting us and telling us not to be upset – while eating your 3rd plate of spaghetti and breaking up the bickering between Uncle Bill, Uncle John and Aunt Jean, and laughing at us because your Roast Beef Gravy recipe is now a legend that you took with you.
We love you so much, and you will always be in our hearts.
Love always, your daughter, Maria
Tributes and Condolences
Thinking of another great Dad / Bridget Dtr Of Allan R. Peacock (United by angels )
Memorial Mass and Luncheon / Maria Armstrong (Daughter)
On March 2, 2008, we held a Memorial Mass and Luncheon for my dad. It was a very nice tribute to a man we all love. Fr. Brian said a lovely mass, with the goofy faced purple haired squeeze ball on the altar representing my dad. He s...
My reflections on Dennis Newman's legacy / Terrie Burckley (friend)
I sat here at 5 AM on the morning of March 2, 2008 and was reflecting on my memories of Mr. Newman. The prominent reflection kept coming back to one thing: His greatest legacy is his daughter Maria - my friend and confidant. I ...
Tribute to Dennis Newman @ MKSD / Maria Armstrong (Daughter)
Today, there was a tribute ceremony in honor of my dad, Dennis, for achieving over 1000 points in basketball. About 3 dozen family and friends - mostly old classmates - joined us for this celebration. It was a very nice tribute at th...
"Used To" by Chris Daughtry / Julia Newman <333 (granddaughter)
This is the song that helps me think of you! R.I.P. Dennis Newman 5/25/49 ~to~ 3/2/07 I Love You!
You used to talk to me like I was the only one around. You used to lean on me The only other choice wa...
Whenever Dennis had his hair cut really short, he would tell people that the lawnmower did it.....or, if it was closer to Christmas time, he'd tell them that the reindeer ate it!
Whenever it was someone's birthday, while everyone was singing Happy Birthday, he'd cry....in a silly way....
He also always said that he didn't have a brain in his head, only straw....(and for a while there when Kayla was younger, she really thought he had a straw stuck in his head!)
IT'S A BOY!!! Many people came up to us at or after the funeral for Dad asking about the "It's A Boy" balloon displayed on the remembrance table during the viewing. Many thought it was given to him when Steven Jr. was born after having 2 daughters and 3 granddaughters; that there was finally a boy in the family. That would make a lot of sense, but it really has a totally different significance.
When Dad would visit friends or family that were sick or dying in the hospital, instead of bringing them a typical 'Get Well Soon' type gift, he would bring a balloon or stuffed toy stating "It's A Boy" just to get a laugh out of them. Nurses, Doctors, and visitors would come into the room and crack up looking at it.
People told us later that while they were in the hospital or home, everytime they looked at it it made them smile and laugh. That was always Dad's goal - to make people smile or laugh! He always wanted to make people happy.
When he went into the hospital in December, Steve (his son-in-law) brought him that balloon displayed on the remembrance table. Dad laughed so hard he cried. SO now whenever I see anything saying "It's A Boy" it makes me laugh and smile.
Submitted by: Mimi Finneran
JOKER!!! Dennis was the President of Gingo, a monthly Deaf Ministry fundraising event. People always dreaded the JOKER, since it cut the winnings for that particular game in half.
When a joker card was drawn, Dennis would wear a JOKER hat and prance around waving his hands in the air while people laughed and boo'd him! Good fun!