Len Augsburger writes:
Evelyn E. Newman, 95, wife of Eric P. Newman, passed away on September 1, 2015, after a brief illness. Evelyn was born in Georgia in
1920 and raised in St. Louis where her father and his brothers rapidly expanded Edison Brothers Stores. Edison Brothers specialized in
women’s footwear and later expanded into other retail businesses.
Eric and Evelyn met in 1938 and married the following year. Although nine years her senior, Eric found himself attracted to Evelyn’s
“enthusiasm and original ideas.” The two were partners in a variety of philanthropic endeavors, and Evelyn was a constant supporter of Eric’s
numismatic pursuits, hosting a steady stream of visitors to their home in Clayton, MO.
Evelyn inadvertently named Eric Newman and Ken Bressett’s 1962 book The Fantastic 1804 Dollar, first offering up “fantastic” in
the context of the coin’s fame. Eric seized on the double meaning (unreal or absurd) and the book was so titled.
Like all spouses of numismatic writers, Evelyn lived amid piles of books and papers, but rather than suffer through ever-spiraling
bibliophilic entropy (Eric himself admitted that he got involved in several numismatic projects for every one that got published), Evelyn
turned the proverbial frog into a prince and launched the St. Louis Book Fair, which still thrives after sixty years and supports
charities related to literacy and academic assistance for low-income children.
Eric and Evelyn traveled the world together, completely fascinated by how others live and dedicated to the idea of improving the world
by forming connections at the most basic, personal level. These experiences informed their giving, which has focused on medical research,
education, and the St. Louis cultural community.
Our sympathies to the Newman family. Below is an excerpt from an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. -Editor
In the 1950s, there was something odd going on at the Newman household in Clayton. A chute was hooked up to a window near the driveway that
led into the basement. Every so often, a car pulled up to unload.
The goods turned out to be donated books — tons of them. Each pile needed to be sorted, priced for resale: five cents for most books, a
dime for the nice ones, maybe $2 for a rare find.
“Then it got a little bit out of hand,” Andy Newman, recalling his childhood home, said of the operation. “It got very, very large. The
house was always full of one project or another.”
The used book drive eventually became widely known as the Greater St. Louis Book Fair and a signature of Evelyn E. Newman, queen of the
The books supported St. Louis’ first interracial day care, but over decades of philanthropy, Mrs. Newman, a no-nonsense heiress to the
now defunct Edison Brothers Stores Inc., was involved with all sorts of causes in St. Louis.
“She got things going and then she moved on to the next creative endeavor,” said Emily Pulitzer, who with Mrs. Newman and others was a
founding director in 1980 of The First Street Forum, what is now Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.
Mrs. Newman, of Clayton, died Tuesday (Sept. 1, 2015) at Barnes-Jewish Hospital after a brief illness, family said. She was 95.
She leaves behind a legacy of getting things done in the St. Louis culture and charity scene.
In 1960, she helped create a high-end used clothing store to support the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis. Since then, ScholarShop
stores in Webster Groves and Clayton generated about $23 million in interest-free loans and grants for college students, said Faith
Sandler, executive director of the foundation.
“She really was the catalyst of founding the ScholarShop,” Sandler said. “It was her brainchild, her idea, her energy.”
In the 1980s, Mrs. Newman was the first executive director of Forest Park Forever, the nonprofit organization that has helped turn the
park into one of the region’s biggest attractions.
“She was very, very important in our early years,” said Lesley Hoffarth, who now leads the group. “She really had attention to detail
and fabulous ideas.”
The article continues with the story of Evelyn's creation of the butterfly house of the Missouri Botanical Garden, inspired by a
butterfly house in Thailand. -Editor
Evelyn Edison Newman was born July 25, 1920, in Atlanta. Her family moved to St. Louis nine years later to be close to the country’s
shoe manufacturing hub. The family business, Edison Brothers, grew into a publicly traded company that at its peak had 2,000 stores before
ending in bankruptcy in 1995.
Mrs. Newman married Eric P. Newman in 1939. Eric Newman, 104, a retired lawyer for Edison Brothers Stores, is a rare coin and currency
scholar and collector.
Auctions from his collection in recent years principally funded more than $60 million in donations to a foundation in the couple’s name
to make grants mainly to St. Louis-based institutions.
At Washington University, the couple helped create the Eric P. Newman Education Center at the School of Medicine, several
professorships, scholarship funds and the Newman Money Museum on campus.
To read the complete article, see:
Evelyn Newman: Queen of St. Louis fundraising has died
Here's an excerpt from another article from St. Louis Public Radio. -Editor
Ten years ago, Mrs. Newman told the Washington University Magazine “I am an idea person. I love spotting trends and I have always been
interested in retail because of my family.”
That family was the Edisons. The Edison Brothers and their shoe business, which went by a number of names, was founded in 1922 and moved
from Georgia to St. Louis in 1929. It flourished in a town known for shoes and booze, and became a titan in the American shoe business. In
the late 1940s, for example, it was the largest chain of women’s shoe stores in the country.
Mrs. Newman benefited from a good education and an interesting one. She graduated from John Burroughs School in 1937, attended Goucher
College in Baltimore and Washington University as well. But her true alma mater, she always said, was the “University of Eric Newman.” He,
as was she, is a very smart man indeed. He, at the age of 104, survives his wife.
Throughout – in her personal life and in business – Mrs. Newman carried herself with warmth, grace and cultivated elegance. She was a woman
of exuberance and enormous energy too; in fact, right until the end, she seemed forever youthful -- so spry, so vigorous, so vital the family was
genuinely surprised she had died.
“Her spunk and with-it-ness disguised how old she was,” her son, Andrew Newman, said. “She was always reinventing herself – examining
this concept or that concept.”
To read the complete article, see:
Edison Newman: Creative philanthropist made it fun for others to contribute
Ken Bressett writes:
I will always remember Evelyn for being as warm, friendly and hospitable as Eric in every respect. Although she had many of her own
special interests and projects she was ever tolerant and supportive of Eric’s life-long dedication to numismatic education. They were
perfectly blended in their humanitarian efforts to make the world a better place for all, and in this succeeded in ways far beyond what
their modesty publicly admitted. Always the perfect hostess, Evelyn was always the star attraction for anyone visiting their home and
will forever be treasured in my memory and by all who knew her.
Joel Orosz writes:
In the world of philanthropy, Evelyn was widely known for the creativity of her fund-raising ideas. The "Shirt off Your Back
Ball" fundraiser, for example, sent donors home in plastic garbage bags, having given not only cash for the cause, but literally the
clothes they wore to the event. Greater St. Louis benefited from decades of Evelyn's efforts to support education, healthcare, human
services, arts and culture, religious charities and environmental programs. If ever there was anyone who left her world in a better state
than she found it, that person was Evelyn Newman.
In the process of research for Eric's upcoming biography, no one could have been more zealous in protecting Eric from authors who
overtaxed his energies by peppering him with questions for too long, but no one could have done it with more grace and kindness. If
Evelyn was capable of acting in a mean or small-minded way , I could find no evidence of it. She made everyone she touched a little more
humane, a little closer to their best selves. It was a privilege to know her.
Roger Burdette writes:
She was an exceptional person and a wonderful supporter of Eric and of her own charitable projects. St. Louis has lost one of its most
I only met Evelyn once, a little over a year ago in St. Louis. I remember Eric telling me one time about all of her philanthropic
efforts, from the book sales to the Butterfly House. He was quite proud of her, and rightly so. In a land where so many people can barely
muster the energy to get up off the couch, she was a whirlwind of ideas and activity, and even in her 90s had a hand in the Newman
Numismatic Portal project as well. The saying goes that behind every great man is a great woman, and that adage clearly holds for a great
numismatist as well, Eric Newman. -Editor
To read the New York Times obituary, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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