John “Buck” Newsom, beloved husband, father and grandfather died Thursday, November 26, 2015, at the age of 96. Funeral services will be held at 3:30pm, Friday, December 4th at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vermont St., Lawrence, KS. A Celebration of Life will follow at Lawrence Country Club.
Buck was born in Durham, NC, the son of Gene and Annie Laurie Newsom. He attended Duke University for one year and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in February 1941. Upon graduation, he reported to the USS Hopkins as Chief Engineer and Gunnery Officer. The Hopkins entered Pearl Harbor on December 9th, 1941, took over the anti-submarine patrol and sank a Japanese submarine. The Hopkins participated in the Guadalcanal and Munda campaigns, receiving three battle stars and the Navy Unit Citation. The Hopkins survived the Battle of Savo Island, the worst sea battle defeat the U.S. Navy ever suffered.
Buck went through lighter-than-air training (blimp pilot training) at Lakehurst, NJ and Moffett Field, CA.
He returned to sea on the USS California participating in the Okinawa Third Fleet operation campaigns. As part of the invasion fleet of Japan, the California was the first American ship in the Kobe/Osaka area. Buck served on the inspection team of the Japanese vessels. After assisting in placing the California in the reserve fleet, Buck then spent six months on the USS Saint Paul in China.
He returned to aviation on the staff of Naval Operations and was Commanding Officer of the squadron ZP-2 in Brunswick, GA. He had additional flight training at Pensacola, FL, Hutchison, KS and Olathe, KS. Buck flew sea planes and carrier-based S2Fs.
After a tour as Plans Officer on the staff of Commander Fleet Air Wings, Atlantic, he was assigned as Commanding Officer, Naval ROTC Unit and Professor of Naval Science at the University of Kansas.
Buck ended his Navy career as Fleet Personnel Officer, Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. After assisting in setting up the Navy Support Unit in Saigon, he retired in September 1964 as a Captain in the U.S. Navy.
After retiring, Buck returned to Lawrence to work for Centron Productions for 20 years, followed by a five year association with Corporate Productions, Toluca Lake, CA.
Buck was a member of Rotary International beginning in 1948. He was District Governor of District 5710 and a Paul Harris Fellow. He served as the first chairman, Board of Governors, for the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Association, Chairman of the United Way Fund, member of the Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Commission, a Big Brother for three young boys and served on the Board of Directors of Big Brothers. He served on the Board of Directors of the Lawrence Public Library, Douglas County Science Fair, The Villages, Lawrence Country Club, Honolulu Cub Scout Committee and the Council of International Non-Theatrical Events, Washington, DC.
Buck was a Red Cross Blood Donor for 25 years, donating 90 pints of blood. He served as Treasurer of the Military Officers of America for 12 years, delivered meals for the Senior Center for 25 years until the age of 94. He was a docent for the Chamber of Commerce of Lawrence, giving tours of Lawrence for 18 years and worked at the Visitor’s Center for 15 years.
During his years at Centron, he was a member of the Army-Navy Club in Washington, the International Quorum of Film/Video Producers and the International Association of Business Communicators. Buck was a Life Member of the Naval Academy Association, the Douglas County Historical Association and the Naval Museum Foundation.
He was also a member of the Duke University Alumni Association, the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation (Charter Member), the KU Retirees Club, New Generation Society of Lawrence, The Pacific Aviation Museum (Founding Member) and the American Philatelic Society.
He enjoyed golf, the beaches of Florida, collecting stamps, carved wooden Santas, decanters, pipes and coins. He especially enjoyed public speaking, giving five to seven speeches per year for 20 years to service clubs, military groups, social clubs, student and Veteran groups. He spoke at the Dole Institute for Politics 11 times in eight years.
Buck is proceded in death by two brothers and three sisters. One brother, Ned Newsom, Durham, NC survives. Surviving Buck is his wife, Faye. They were married for 69 years. Also surviving are daughter Jennifer Rogozinski and husband Peter, son John “Bo” Newsom, Jr., daughter Betty Amyx and husband Ron, granddaughters Kaitlin Witthaus and husband Chris, Hayley Morris and many nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to Visiting Nurses and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.