James Theodore Newell
James Theodore Newell was born on the family farm, just east of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in the Blue Creek district, on Oct. 26, 1920. He was the only son and youngest child of Daniel J. Newell and Clara Fischbach Newell, whose families migrated from England and Germany respectively.
Jim passed quietly and peacefully, surrounded by family, on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, — just over 2 months shy of his 99th birthday — at Renaissance Assisted Living.
Jim spent an idyllic childhood during the Depression, roaming the hills and valleys of Blue Creek and Wolf Lodge, riding his horse, Tuffy, to bring in the cows, practicing his violin and walking with his two sisters to the country schools of Blue Creek and Sunnyside. His children grew up hearing stories of card parties and crab feeds at neighboring farms, grange dances where he played the fiddle and taking breaks from summer chores to swim at the sandy beach that once graced the eastern shore of Blue Creek Bay. He spoke of monthly trips to town for supplies, sometimes by sleigh, and looking forward to a 10 cent hamburger and piece of pie at The Missouri Kitchen, the original Hudson’s Hamburgers run by Harley Hudson.
After finishing sixth grade at the Blue Creek School, he rode his one-speed bike from the Blue Creek farm into town to attend the junior and senior high school on 7th Street in Coeur d’Alene, where he played violin in the school orchestras under the direction of Art Fehringer.
Jim married Josephine Jones before he was deployed overseas, and he became the father of James Theodore Newell Jr. while in basic training. He served in the Army in Europe during World War II, landing on Omaha Beach four days after D-Day. Jim drove in the medical motor pool, moving hospitals within the European theater. His unit was captured for a short time by the German occupation, and while fervently praying for Patton to break through enemy lines, he made the promise to himself that if he survived he would come home and enroll in college.
Jim returned to his beloved Coeur d’Alene and the Blue Creek farm at the end of the war. His marriage had ended while stationed in Europe and his uncle introduced him to Florence Evelyn Clark of Billings, Mont. Jim and Florence married in April of 1946. They moved to Moscow, Idaho, where he attended the University of Idaho and later to Billings, to finish his education degree at Eastern Montana University.
Jim started his teaching career in Kellogg, Idaho, at Sunnyside Elementary School (now Dave Smith Motors) teaching fifth and sixth grades and later becoming principal. Daughter, Gayla, was born in 1951 and a second daughter, Bonnie, joined the family in 1953. Jim built a beautiful log home, with help from family and friends, in Elizabeth Park, just east of Kellogg. Another daughter, Marie, was born in 1958 while they lived in Elizabeth Park.
He left teaching for a while to work for Farmers Insurance, and the career change brought moves to Sandy, Utah, where Christine joined her sisters in 1959. They then moved to Coeur d’Alene and later to Great Falls, Mont. He returned to teaching in 1964, and the family settled back in Coeur d’Alene, where he taught in Post Falls and later served as principal at Fredrick Post Elementary and Post Falls Junior High.
Jim created an outdoor education program for Post Falls School District in the late 1960s. Loving the outdoors as he did, he was in his element taking his students on day hikes and overnight camping trips to instill in them a love and appreciation of nature and knowledge of the flora and fauna of Idaho. He loved teaching and often said there was never a day he wasn’t excited to go to work and open up the minds of his students.
Jim is survived by his son, James Jr. Newell (Carol) of Spokane Valley, with grandchildren, James Newell III (Delana), Kim Dunlap (Gerhard) and Karrie Kemper (Tim); daughters, Gayla Moseley with granddaughters, Erin Moseley (Mark) and Paige Landers (Brian), Marie Gibbs (Dan-deceased) with granddaughter, Mandy Childers (Dave) and Christine Taylor with granddaughters, Kayleen Meeter (Larry), Larissa Meeter (Austin) and Kendyll Taylor. He is survived by 14 great-grandchildren, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Surviving also is his devoted little dog, Chewy, who has found a new calling as a resident mascot and therapy dog.
Jim is predeceased by his parents, Dan and Clara Newell and his two older sisters, Viola Urbanek and Helen Pearcy. His second daughter, Bonnie, sadly passed away while living in Kellogg.
Dad lived a full, rich life. He taught his children to love and respect the beauty of nature and to appreciate the privilege of being lucky enough to grow up among the forests, lakes and streams of North Idaho, “God’s Country.” Dad took us hiking, taught us to fish, taught us to swim and took us camping. He taught us how to identify the conifers of North Idaho by bark, cones and needles; the names of the wildflowers and where to find North Idaho’s wild orchids, the Lady Slipper and elusive Dutch Shoe. He could always find the best huckleberry patch and knew the mountains, streams and backroads of North Idaho like the back of his hand. We will all miss his stories, his knowledge of the Coeur d’Alene mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, and his appreciation of the simple things in life. Most of all we’ll miss Dad.
Dad, you are reunited now with your parents, sisters and sweet Bonnie, and we know you are happily roaming the hills and woods of Blue Creek, riding Tuffy to go bring in the cows or maybe hiking to White Sands Lake, horse by your side, in your beloved Selway Bitterroot Wilderness Area.
We will miss you, Dad. Thank you for giving us your best.
The family would like to thank Renaissance Assisted Living, with special thanks to Stacie and Hospice of North Idaho for their loving, respectful care during Dad’s final days
We welcome all whose lives were touched by Jim to a graveside service with military honors at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in the VFW military section of Forest Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to www.Wildlandsnetwork.org or www.wildhorsesanctuary.org.
English Funeral Chapel, Coeur d’Alene, has been entrusted with James’ care and services. Please go to his guest registry and view his online memorial at www.englishfuneralchapel.com.