Kenneth Ellis Newton
November 20, 1944
August 20, 2022
Kenneth Ellis Newton, 77, passed peacefully from this life to the next on August 20, 2022.
Ken was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania on November 20, 1944, to Margaret McNaughton Newton and Ellis Ira Newton, who was serving in the army in Europe during World War II and did not learn about the birth of his son until Ellis was freed from a German POW camp in April of 1945. Ken grew up in East McKeesport in the house his father had been born in, and attended school in East McKeesport and Wilmerding, where he enjoyed drafting classes and excelled at playing the trumpet in the school band. In 1963 Ken joined the army and auditioned for the U.S. Fourth Army Band as a trumpet player, was accepted, and was subsequently stationed in San Antonio. Ken’s duties included marching in parades throughout Texas and also playing Taps at the military funerals for casualties of the Vietnam War. Ken liked to tell the story about how Lyndon Johnson was president, and the band was assigned to greet him with “Hail to the Chief” but on President Johnson’s birthday, the band played, “Happy Birthday” instead, to the consternation of the protocol officer.
After Ken served his three-year enlistment in the army, he returned to Pennsylvania, but he had developed a love for Texas while stationed in San Antonio, so he returned to Texas to attend the University of Houston, where he met his future wife, Linda Hamilton. The couple married on May 30, 1970, in Houston. Ken graduated from UH with a degree in business administration but turned to his early skills of drafting to become a mechanical draftsman. In 1982, the couple moved to Brenham when Ken began working for HiLine Industries.
Ken was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. An unassuming, modest man, he was an excellent listener and had a wry sense of humor, often making jokes that his kids called, “bad dad jokes.” He engaged with the world by reading science and news magazines and by watching a variety of news programs, with PBS being one of his favorite channels. He donated to causes like the World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy, and Chef Andre’s World Central Kitchen. He also was a member of the Democratic Club of Washington County.
Ken’s life was always one of service. While living in Houston, he became a volunteer for the Houston Marathon and worked the finish line for more than ten years, driving back to Houston from Brenham after the family moved, and usually taking a least one child with him to also assist. Ken visited his children’s schools to eat lunch with the children and to contribute to the class study of space by launching rockets with them, and he was a Host mentor for many years, first at Brenham Elementary and then at Alton. Ken was always active in his local church. He was a member of Brenham Presbyterian Church for almost 40 years, where he served as a mentor, Sunday school teacher, committee member, and elder, taking on many responsibilities, including helping to organize the community CROP walk several times. Ken was also a leader for the Boy Scouts of America troop sponsored by Brenham Presbyterian Church and created many good memories, memories of camp-outs, summer camp, and even a trip to the Guadalupe Mountains. Ken’s work for the local charity, Bread Partners of Washington County for over 30 years, was what he most wanted to be remembered for. While Ken was still employed at HiLine, he helped load the Bread Partner’s delivery truck early in the morning before he went to work, often taking one or more kids with him to help before taking them for doughnuts afterward, and daughter Kathryn became something of a mascot to the other, older volunteers. After Ken retired from HiLine, he took on more responsibilities at Bread Partners, including going on the early morning food delivery route, keeping records, and serving on the board of directors.
Ken loved bicycling and bicycles, a love that he has passed on to his children. Ken rode in numerous charity rides, including the MS150 multiple times with sons Alex and Matt or with his cycling buddies in Washington County, and he even organized a charity ride in Washington County to raise money for research for a rare genetic disorder suffered by a friend’s child. He twice completed a five day bike ride with son Matt on the Katy Trail in Missouri, and he helped organize and lead rides for the Boy Scouts who wanted to earn their cycling merit badges. He became quite a good bike mechanic, and after he retired from HiLine, he worked at Brenham Fitness, where he was known as “the bike whisperer” because he was so talented at tuning up the spin bikes.
Ken and Linda enjoyed live performances and were season ticket holders for Unity Theater, where they also volunteered. Every summer while they lived in Houston, the couple enjoyed Shakespeare plays in Hermann Park, and after they moved to Brenham, never missed a season of Shakespeare at Winedale until Ken’s health began to fail. Their granddaughters Sophie and Evie continued this love of Shakespeare by both participating in Camp Shakespeare at Winedale this summer.
Ken was much loved and will be missed by wife of 52 years, Linda, and by sons Alex (Kathryn) Newton, Matt (Bethany) Newton, daughter Kathryn Newton, granddaughters Sophie and Evie Newton, grandsons Benny and Leo Newton, special cousin Jean Diak (Joe), sister-in-law Kathy Mitchamore (Buddy), brother-in-law Bill Hamilton (Glenda), nieces Cristine Mitchamore, Debra Pinzon-Hamilton(Carlos), and Beth Ozga (Jeremy); nephews Chris Hamilton, Michael Hamilton (Tara), and Trois Mitchamore; great nieces and nephews; and dear friends Jan and Fritz Herbst.
Ken was preceded in death by his sister, Marjorie Newton Jones, his parents Ellis and Margaret Newton, his parents-in-law Larry and Dorothy Hamilton, and by infant son Paul Ellis Newton.
A celebration of Ken’s life will be held on Sunday, September 11 at 2:00 p.m. at Brenham Presbyterian Church, 900 South Jackson Street. In lieu of flowers, please direct donations to Bread Partners of Washington County, Brenham Presbyterian Church, or a charity of your choice. Brenham Memorial Chapel has been entrusted with Ken’s care.