“How great it was”: York honors the late and great Joe Newton

Joe+Newtons+son%2C+Tom+Newton%2C+shares+memories+of+his+father+as+the+crows+listens+intently.+Jan.+27.

Photo by Grace Moriarty

Joe Newton’s son, Tom Newton, shares memories of his father as the crows listens intently. Jan. 27.

For the past 60 years, Joe Newton has led the York Boys Cross Country team to 28 state championship victories, leaving behind York’s legacy as one of the top cross country programs in not only the state of Illinois, but the entire nation.

Photo by Grace Moriarty
The 28 state cross country trophies won under Mr. Newton’s coaching are displayed in the commons at the Joe Newton Memorial. Jan. 27

 

On Dec. 9, 2017 Newton passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family in his home in Goodyear, Arizona. This past Saturday, Jan. 27, a memorial was held in his honor in the York Commons, where hundreds of current York students and alumni came to pay their respects and reflect on how their lives were touched by him.

Photo by Grace Moriarty
A significant crowd shows up to honor and remember Mr. Newton during the Joe Newton Memorial. Saturday, Jan. 27.

One of the speakers at the memorial, George Andrews, a cross-country manager for Newton during the sixties, brought up a fact shared by almost all of the other speakers: Mr. Newton was not only a great coach for the top runners, he was a great coach for all of the boys on his team no matter how fast or slow they were.

Photo by Grace Moriarty
York alum honors York cross country and shows off his 1990 state champion patch on his letterman jacket. Jan 27.

“He made everybody feel like they’re a member of the team,” Andrews said. “Mr. Newton always made the last guy feel as important as the number one guy.”

Photo by Grace Moriarty
The packed commons erupts with applause after stories are shared about Mr. Newton’s life from his friends and relatives. Jan. 27.

To anyone who knew Newton, it seemed that nothing could persuade him to retire or get him off that cross country course.

“My goal is to keep coaching,” Coach Newton once said. “Bing Crosby died on the golf course ‑ doing what he loved. My wife says I’ll die on the cross country course. What better way to go?”

Photo by Grace Moriarty
An emotional photo of Mr. Newton in his element cheering for his athletes at the state meet is displayed on the stage at the memorial. Jan. 27.

Newton finally retired after the 2016 cross country season, sixty years after he began coaching in 1956. Throughout his career, Newton always aimed to inspire and better the athletes he coached.

Photo by Grace Moriarty
Joe Newton’s son, Tom Newton, shares memories of his father as the crows listens intently. Jan. 27.

“I love that it’s like I’ve got 800 sons,” Newton said in 2016. “I feel like I’m part of their life, not only trying to help them be good runners, but good people too.”

Two students from Mundelein High School support Mr. Newton by participating in the memorial on Saturday, Jan. 27.