SCARBOROUGH – Richard Taylor Newman passed peacefully on July 25, 2020, at Gosnell House with his wife Anne by his side. He was a World War II veteran, deeply devoted to family and country, had a lifelong passion for languages, politics, economics and foreign affairs, was always researching some new topic, and loved nothing more than to connect with family, friends and acquaintances by sharing conversation over a good meal. “Let’s have lunch” was his mantra. Richard grew up in suburban Chicago, a serious student who hoped to be a chemist.
In April 1943, aged 17, he finished high school, enlisted, and trained to be a soldier in the 100th Infantry Division. He fought throughout the Rhone Valley and Alsace regions of France, helping to free many occupied towns. Richard earned a Bronze Star and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
In 1946 he returned home, indelibly changed by the experience of war and his exposure to European life and culture. Richard attended Carleton College on the GI Bill, studying languages and history. He earned a Master’s in International Affairs at Columbia University where, as the 4th editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Affairs, he became a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
In 1951, he was recruited into the Central Intelligence Agency and employed his skills in German, Russian and French as the Cold War emerged. Richard stayed current by reading his beloved New York Times and other papers daily along with numerous periodicals and historical biographies. He was not apt to share his personal war experiences, however, until he was much older, out of respect for those who did not return; to the end of his long life, he expressed wonder at his own good fortune in surviving.
Richard returned to Alsace a number of times with family, and reconnected with fellow veterans of the 100th Division and local historians; he was honored at a 70th-anniversary remembrance of the armistice in France in 2015.
In 1955, Richard returned to Chicago to work at the Northern Trust Bank; he would soon turn to a career in investment banking. At a church garden party, he met Portia Allen, who worked in the art department of a Chicago advertising agency.
The adventurous couple married in 1957, toured Europe and Russia, skied in Colorado, sailed on Lake Michigan, and lived and worked in the city before moving to nearby Evanston to start a family. Richard and Portia were involved in their community, schools, and church, and hosted many family and neighborhood gatherings. As they raised their four children, Richard was a dedicated and supportive father, encouraging hard work, academic achievement, and a solid tennis backhand. The family often hosted international Northwestern University students and made friends from around the world; Richard and Portia later visited them in their travels to Turkey, China, Japan, and Europe.
After retirement, Richard and Portia moved to Harpswell, Maine, to be closer to family; there, he became a passionate advocate of ocean wind power as a strategy to combat global warming.
After Portia’s passing in 2010, Richard met Anne Varney, a native Mainer and teacher. They were married in 2011, moved to Brunswick, Maine, and enjoyed traveling and spending time with their children and grandchildren.
Richard believed deeply in the importance of Americans learning foreign languages and working abroad as a means of mutual understanding and connection with those from other cultures – ultimately in order to promote world peace. He created a fund at Carleton College to support student foreign-language internships abroad, and never stopped studying to improve his own language skills. Although family obligations kept him from a longtime dream of running for public office, Richard found ways to help many others in their career and financial development, and devoted himself to service on several public projects including the financing of the Washington, D.C., metro system and a suburban Chicago transit system called Nortran.
Richard was always curious about and delighted in many diversions, especially dogs, tennis, and seafood. He was deeply interested in and proud of his five grandsons, with whom he loved to have lunch and share his silly side as well as his serious views on the world. Traveling to Strasbourg and touring Alsace with them in 2017 was one of his fondest memories.
Richard was predeceased by his wife Portia, his brother Howard, and his daughter Rachel. He is survived by his wife, Anne Newman; daughters Liz Newman (Jean-François Cloutier) and Laura Newman (Jeff Norris) of Portland, ME; son JP Newman (Julie Newman) of Ashland, OR; and grandsons Jondall Norris, Charlie Norris, Will Newman, Wesley Newman, and Eli Newman, as well as Steve Sullivan (Tommy Long) of New Canaan, CT, an (unofficially) adopted son, and numerous nieces and nephews. He is also survived by stepchildren Katherine Ritchie of Wooster, OH; Nicholas Varney (Kati Varney) of Gorham, ME; Matthew Varney of Westbrook (ME), and Anne’s five grandchildren. Richard’s family wishes to thank the staff at Stroudwater Lodge and at Falmouth House for their attentiveness over the past two years, and the Gosnell House staff for their wonderfully kind care and support in his final days. No services will be held.
Online condolence messages can be submitted at the Chad E. Poitras Cremation and Funeral Service website, http://www.mainefuneral.com
Memorial donations may be made to the Richard T. Newman Fund for Language Internships at
1 North College Street,
Northfield, MN 55057