In Memoriam

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Roger Newhall ’51

February 26, 2017, in Portland.

A gentleman in dress and manner, Roger was an eccentric who took refuge in his collection of recordings, art, and books. He preferred reclusiveness, but enjoyed planning luncheons, dinners, and concerts with family and friends, and was known to brighten someone’s day by delivering an unexpected gift.

Born in Portland to Roger and Ann Nichols Newhall, he had a younger brother who died at the age of two. Influenced by his mother, even as a toddler Roger was interested in classical music, opera, and theatre. At the age of nine, he received his first electric phonograph and classical record—Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite—marking the beginning of a lifelong passion for collecting, listening to, and writing about classical music and opera.

He attended the Gabel Country Day School, spent a year at Lincoln High School, entered Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts, and then enrolled at Harvard. After one semester at Harvard, he enlisted in the army, where he was a classification specialist, clerk, and typist stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Upon being honorably discharged, he enrolled at Reed College, and focused on music history until his father passed away in 1949. Roger dabbled in record sales in Portland, and in 1955 moved to New York City, where he was employed by RCA Records, Sam Goody, Continental Records, and finally MusicMasters. In addition to writing about music and recordings, he took an interest in writing about New York City-area karate champions. Roger took in countless concerts, operas, theatre, and museums, and made long vacations in Europe. He returned to Portland every August, and in 1985 moved back to live with and care for his mother, whom he considered “the one true love” in his life.

An eloquent speaker with a vast command of the English language, Roger championed the people he cared about and mentored and supported those he knew with musical aspirations.  He was fond of animals and grew up with dogs, but in the second half of his life, he was close to a few cats that either lived with him or stopped by for meals. Throughout his life he enjoyed recreational outings, drives to the beach and through the Columbia River Gorge to the Hood River valley, where he had fond memories of spending time with family and friends. His final request was that his ashes be laid to rest in the shadow of Mt. Hood.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2017

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