URBANA — Jack Winton Newlin passed away peacefully in his sleep on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, at University Rehab Center, Urbana.
Jack was born on June 28, 1929, to Wayne and Leona Jean (Kincheloe) Newlin, at the home of his (maternal) Aunt Nina and Uncle Wes Hogue in Marshall. He spent his early childhood years in East Gary, Ind., where his parents worked in the steel mills.
Jack and his parents moved back to the family farm in Westfield when he was in second grade. He attended Richwoods School, a one-room schoolhouse with 15 students. His freshman year at Westfield High School, he met the love of his life, Ruth Roberta "Bobbie" Sweeney, and their lifelong love affair began. They graduated from Westfield High School in 1948.
After graduation, Jack joined the Army, with his basic training at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. On Dec. 2, 1949, Jack took leave and he and Bobbie eloped and were married at First Christian Church in Henderson, Ky. He then shipped out for his posting in Fontainebleau, France.
After 18 months, Bobbie was able to join him for a year in France before his discharge in 1952. They had a small apartment there and enjoyed many adventures on their yearlong "honeymoon," including trips to Paris and Spain. After Jack’s discharge, he and Bobbie moved to Centralia, where he worked in a paint store.
Their first child, Bonnie Michelle, arrived on June 26, 1953. Jack decided to attend trade school to become an engineer, so the little family moved to Cicero, where they lived in a 21-foot camper while Jack attended Allied Institute of Technology to receive training as an engineer, while working two or three jobs at a time to support his family.
Son Raymond Jay joined the family on July 24, 1957, and the growing family moved into a 28-foot camper. Upon finishing his schooling, they moved to Irving, Texas, where Jack worked for Texas Instruments. They bought their first house, and their daughter Lee Ann was born there on Dec. 6, 1960.
After five years, the Newlins were missing their Illinois roots and so moved in 1963 to Homer, where Jack worked at Magnavox in Urbana, mostly on defense contracts. When Magnavox closed its plant, he then worked in civil engineering at Daily and Associates in Champaign.
Jack later worked as a civil engineer at Chanute Air Force Base until the base closure in 1993. He finished his engineering career at Tridan International in Danville.
In retirement, he worked part time at Taylor Studios in Rantoul as jack-of-all-trades. He finally retired for good in January 2005 and began his new vocation of devoted care of Bobbie, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003.
Jack assumed her housekeeping duties and lovingly took care of all her needs at home before she entered Champaign County Nursing Home (now University Rehab) in November 2011, where he visited her daily. Eventually, he joined her there in 2013 and they shared a room until his passing.
Jack was a lifelong learner. He received his bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University at age 50 and his master’s degree from Sangamon State University at the age of 60. He also attended AutoCAD classes at Parkland. He took accordion lessons, taught himself to repair accordions in his spare time and founded the Buttons and Bellows Accordion Club, which played at area festivals and nursing homes.
He could fix or build anything. He was skilled in electrical, plumbing and automotive repairs and was a talented woodworker, making many furniture pieces. He also enjoyed winemaking. He and Bobbie lovingly restored their 100-year old home into a thing of beauty.
Jack and Bobbie were passionate genealogists, taking many trips around the United States, England and Ireland to document their roots. He was famous for his large vegetable garden, and he and Bobbie maintained a lovely yard full of trees and flowers. They also enjoyed many years of ballroom dancing.
Jack had a strong faith in God and was a member of the Homer United Methodist Church. Jack was the bedrock of his family and always put their needs first. He was a perfect husband, father, grandfather and friend to all.
Jack is survived by his beloved wife, Bobbie; his children, Bonnie (Michael) Specchio of Rantoul, Jay Newlin of Oakwood and Lee Ann (Tom) Johnson of Tolono; three grandchildren, Megan (Ben) Pulling of East Peoria, Nick Hubert of Pensacola, Fla., and Dominic (Jessica) Specchio of Foley, Ala.; and three great-grandchildren, Annabel and Roscoe Pulling of East Peoria and Isaiah Specchio of Foley, Ala. Another great-grandchild is expected in March 2020.
He was preceded in death by his parents and an infant sister, Bonnie Jo Newlin.
The family would like to thank the staffs of University Rehab and Carle Hospice for their loving care of Jack.
Per Jack’s wishes, there will be no services. Baier Family Funeral Services, Paxton, is assisting the family with arrangements. Memorial donations may be made to Richwoods Cemetery and mailed to Bonnie Specchio, 1489 County Road 2800 North, Rantoul, IL 61866.