Bill Newman


January 18, 2021 - 9:40 AM

William (Bill) Harry Newman of Iola transitioned to his eternal home on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, at St. Francis Hospital, Wichita. He was 83 years old.

Bill was born Dec. 1, 1937, in Iola to the late William H. Newman and Estella Faye (Coker) Newman. He grew up in Iola and graduated from Iola High School. Bill served four years in the U.S. Air Force as a mechanical engineer and received a “Good Conduct Medal.”

On Dec. 25, 1958, Bill married Jessie Lee Davis. To this marriage were born five children. 

Bill later married Frances Lewis. To this union there were three children, thereby completing his blended family.

Bill retired from Consolidated Freightways in Portland, Ore., as a machinist and diesel mechanic. He later became the first African-American to be certified as a “Transmission Specialist” in the state of Oregon. He retired in 1997 and moved back to Iola.

Bill became a “Churchman” as a member of Ward Chapel A.M.E. He held the office of District Steward and Superintendent of the Sunday School until the time of his death. 

Bill carried on his family legacy and love for the church. The Newman family donated the land to the church that the original Ward Chapel was built on in 1873, where it currently resides today. 

When his wife Frances was living, they started a youth group in the church and did a marvelous job. They attended all the district and annual meetings as the church delegates and always brought back inspiring reports about the progress of our 5th district. Bill was active in all the church organizations over the years and was always a quiet presence doing whatever was asked of him. 

Bill also assumed the job that his older sister (Ducky) had always done, looking after older members in the community to see if they had a ride to church or needed something done. Whatever our seniors in the city needed, Bill was willing to help. 

Bill loved people and everybody loved him! He was highly esteemed and deeply admired by friends from all over the country. His motivation in life was his unconditional love for his family. He was adored by all family members young and old. He had a special place in his heart for all of his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great great-grandson.

Bill is survived by sons Richard (Rico) Newman and Ronnie Newman; daughter Debra (Newman) Lindsay of Portland, Ore.; Dawn Williams of Iola; Michelle (Newman) Simms of Temple, Texas; Nicole Kinney of Texas; sisters Helen Ambler and Spencer of Iola; Donna (Suzie) Wright of Haysville, Utah; a host of grandchildren, nephews, nieces, extended relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents William H. Newman and Estella Faye (Coker) Newman Gardenhire; wife of 42 years, Frances Newman; son William (Billy) Newman Jr.; daughter Estella Fay Newman, brother Floyd Newman; sisters Rosie Powers and Kathleen (Ducky) Garner; and brother-in-laws Elliott Powers and Veron (Red) Garner.

Celebration of Life services will take place at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at Feuerborn Family Funeral Service in Iola. Burial will follow at Highland Cemetery in Iola. Masks will be required during all services.

Memorials in honor of Bill are suggested to Ward Chapel Church or the William Newman Memorial Fund and may be left with Feuerborn Family Funeral Service or mailed to 1883 U.S. Highway 54, Iola, Kansas 66749. Condolences for the family may be left online at


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