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In Memory Of Our Poets

Dr. Wesley Phillips Newton, Jr. (1925-2012) - Class Of 1943

Wesley Phillips Newton, Jr., 86, died on January 30, 2012, in Montgomery. He was born on April 2, 1925, in Montgomery.

After growing up in the Old Cloverdale section of the city and graduating from Sidney Lanier High School in 1943, he joined the United States Army and eventually fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Germany. He was wounded in battle, for which he received a Purple Heart, and was a prisoner of war from December 1944 until April 1945.

After returning home from war, Wesley attended the University of Missouri, where he received a B.A. in English, and later the University of Alabama, where he received both an M.A. and Ph.D. in history. He was a professor of history for three decades, including over two decades at Auburn University, where he was a professor emeritus at the time of his death. He was a prolific scholar who published several books and dozens of book chapters and academic articles.

Among his books is Montgomery in the Good War: Portrait of a Southern City, 1939-46, which reflects the love that he had for the city of his birth and death. Wesley also devoted countless hours of his time in retirement to civic and volunteer organizations in Montgomery, including the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum (serving as its first executive director) and One Montgomery.

Above all else, Wesley was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Merlin Owen Newton; three children, Linda, Alan, and Brent; two daughters-in-law, Tirza Bartels and Rebecca Kuhn; and two granddaughters, Anna and Georgia Bartels- Newton.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Wesley's name to the non-profit Capri Community Film Society, Inc., 1045 E. Fairview Ave., Montgomery, Alabama, 36106, in recognition of his passion for classic movies.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 18, 2012, at 2:00 p.m. at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel at the Convention Center.