University of Texas
Clarence Jonathan Newton
February 25, 1923–December 26, 2012



Clarence Jonathan Newton


Acknowledgement: Pictures provided by Sharon Lodico and Clarence J. Newton

Clarence Jonathan Newton BA ’44, MA ’47, PhD UT ’52. Crystallography

Clarence Jonathan Newton, son of Bertha McKee Newton (1899-) and Clarence Earl Newton (1896–1971), was born February 25, 1923, in Decatur, Nebraska. His sister was Daisy Mae Newton (Barber) (1924-1971). He had also a half-sister, Barbara "Bobbie" Damon (1919–2012). His father, born in Iowa, was a contract painter and decorator. In August 1935, his family moved to Edinburg, Texas. He graduated from the Edinburg Senior High School in 1940 and from the Edinburg Junior College in 1942. From September 1942 until June 1943, he was employed as a Spanish translator in the Office of Censorship in San Antonio and in Brownsville, Texas. In July 1943, he entered the University of Texas. He graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in physics in October 1944. He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in that same year.

Clarence mentioned in an interview that a number of faculty were associated with the magnesium plant owned and operated by the federal government on 400 acres north of Austin, where the Balcones Research Center later was located. The plant produced magnesium from dolomitic limestone for making fire bombs used in WWII. Austin was chosen because it was safe from submarine attack, and it was close to a plentiful power source, the Marshall Ford Dam.

From December 1944 until October 1945, he was employed as a Physicist, at the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D. C. He returned to the University of Texas in November 1945, entering the Graduate School. While studying as an undergraduate in the University, he was employed as a student assistant in the Department of Physics; and as a graduate, he was employed as a tutor and a teaching fellow in the department. David Blackstock recalls taking labs under “Sir Isaac” as he was referred to by the students. While a student he published an article, Thermal Expansion Coefficients of Alpha Monoclinic Selenium, in Crystallographica, 4, 477, (1951).

In 1947, Clarence earned a MA in physics, his thesis was entitled, A Study of X-ray Diffraction from Powder Samples of Several Nickel and Molybdenam Compounds.” The work was supervised by Malcolm Y. Colby. In 1952, he was awarded a PhD for his dissertation, The Thermal Expansion of Alpha Monoclinic Selenium. Again, the work was supervised by Professor Colby.

Clarence worked at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D. C. and for the Corpus Christi Army Depot, retiring in 1983.







After retiring, Clarence returned to Edinburg, TX where he enjoyed his favorite pastime, reading from his extensive collection of books on many various subjects and interest.

Despite being confined to a wheelchair and at times suffering from vision problems, Clarence was of invaluable help in clarifying aspects of the University of Texas physics department’s history.

Clarence had enjoyed living at "The Bridges" in Edinburg for the last several years of his life. Allstate Hospice cared for him near the end, and he was able to leave this life peacefully. Clarence was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence Earl and Bertha Newton, sisters, Mae Barber and "Bobbi" Barrett and by a nephew, John Barber. He was a member of the Unitarians and attended the "Community of Christ Church" in McAllen. Following his wishes, Skinner-Silva Funeral Home of Edinburg was entrusted with his cremation. No services were held. He will be fondly remembered by his friends and neighbors, especially Sandra Swenson, Max and Marilyn Matthews, Pat and Jim Titus and Lewis and Sharon Lodico (who wrote his obituary, excerpts used in this paragraph.) Clarence died December 26, 2012, at the age of 89.

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