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Memorial Tribute – Betty Jo Newton


Betty Jo Newton

Betty Jo Newton

Elizabeth “Betty Jo” Kurz Newton, 85, of North Little Rock, Ark., passed away Monday, January 17, 2011 in Rogers, Ark. She was born March 28, 1925 in Takoma Park, Maryland, to Joseph Kurz and Maude Rude Kurz. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Fine Arts and received her Master’s in Teacher Education from Columbia University in New York City. During WWII she worked in the U.S. Patent office after it moved from Washington, D.C., to Richmond, Va., to protect it during wartime. She proudly served in the United States Navy during the Korean conflict and was a flight simulator instructor in Pensacola, Florida. She was an amazing woman, perhaps fitting that she passed on Martin Luther King’s birthday, as she was (among many other things) a true partner in his dream. She was the first white teacher to teach in an all-black school, Dunbar, in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area around 1957 or 1958. She and our dad taught us much about loving others regardless of color of skin. Betty Jo was a lifelong artist. She was a member of the Mid-Southern Watercolorists, and the Arkansas League of Artists, and was looking forward to the opening of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Although living a frugal life herself, she was exceedingly generous toward others. When thinking of her, the words, “…poor yet having made many rich..” come to mind.

She was preceded in death by her parents, one sister and four brothers. Betty Jo is survived by Joseph Emory O’Neal Newton; one son David E. Newton and wife Lezlie of Centerton, Ark.; one daughter Martha F. Lester and husband Peter of Fayetteville, Ark.; one sister, Barbara J. Kurz of Catonsville, Md.; and five grandchildren.

Memorials may be made in honor of Betty Jo Newton to Park Hill Christian Church, 4400 John F. Kennedy Blvd., North Little Rock, Ark. 72116-7307; or Arkansas Arts Center, 501 East 9th Street, Little Rock, Ark. 72202-3952; or Patrick Hays Senior Center, 401 W. Pershing Blvd., North Little Rock, Ark. 72114 or Crystal Bridges, Museum of American Art, P.O. Box 1169, Bentonville, Ark. 72712.

Betty Jo Newton Memorial Program