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John Arthur Newbauer, Jr.

John Arthur Newbauer, Jr., born April 24, 1928, was the son of John Arthur Sr., a Pharmacist for the US Navy, and Theo Trewhella Newbauer, a Rhode Island native with roots in Cornwall and Wales. A tragic chemical accident while on duty left his father unable to care for the family, and John at age seven traveled across the country with his mother by car to idyllic and then largely rural Marin County, California where his maternal uncles lived.  John attended local schools including Mt. Tamalpias High School, where he continued to excel academically and was encouraged to leave early for classes at Marin Community College.  Growing up in Depression-era poverty, he worked after school and weekends starting in eighth grade to help his mother, including as a butcher in training in San Anselmo.  One memorable summer John catalogued in one of the many short stories he wrote was his summer tutoring job time on a sailboat along the California coast. In another season, he worked as a server at Yosemite Lodge and became proficient at rock climbing.  With enough savings, he was able to transfer to the University of California at Berkley, studying hard but also famously serving as a hasher, houseboy, bridge partner and occasional date for the sisters at a Berkeley sorority house.

After graduating with a BA in English and a minor in Chemistry, John was hired as a technical writer and soon thereafter became an editor of all technical publications at the Naval Ordinance Test Station, China Lake in the Mohave dessert.  There he met his wife and love of his life, Marilyn Mahler from Brooklyn, NY.  Their courtship was only slightly delayed by his mistaken belief that Marilyn was the wife—and not the younger sister—of Commanding Officer George Mahler.  Marilyn and John married in October of 1956 and moved to the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where their daughter April was born.  John became Editor-in-Chief of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) magazine and technical publications and for the next thirty years worked in Midtown.  Although they shared a love of Manhattan’s art museums and West Village culture scene, the welcome addition of their second child Dana led them to settle in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Miranda, their third child, was born into this multi-generational row home owned by Marilyn’s parents.  Here John and Marilyn welcomed friends and family into their intellectually curious, politically left and more than slightly bohemian household.    John learned to garden and successfully grow vegetables in the small backyard. John’s garden was an oasis filled with plentiful crops of grapes, tomatoes, and flowers of many kinds.  John built a grape arbor over half of the yard and kept the building from sinking by learning concrete construction methods from his immigrant neighbors. He cherished the annual no-amount-of-luggage-is-too-much family pilgrimage to Block Island and, making up for his youth, completely over-the-top Christmas celebrations. When the AIAA relocated to Washington DC in the late 1980s John moved there temporarily, commuting back to Brooklyn whenever he could.  He retired from the AIAA and returned to Brooklyn in 1993, enjoying life with Marilyn until her unexpected and early departure in November of 2005.  Shortly thereafter he moved to a condo Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where he enjoyed the quiet charm of the town and its bookstores and gardens, despite frequent self-deprecating comments about living there. Only a few days before Covid struck the nation with force, John was fortunate to be able to move into an assisted living community in Newtown, which provided the warmest environment possible during the lockdown.  Dementia took its toll on him, and he died peacefully the evening of September 6, 2021. 

In addition to his degree from UC Berkley in 1950, John was named to Who’s Who in America in 1980.  He was a member of the British Interplanetary Society and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Besides short stories, he wrote numerous poems and long letters to the New York Times on issues of the day.  However, John--an only child--was by far proudest of being a father and grandfather.  His three children April, Dana and Miranda, and eight grandchildren Rachel, Justin, Simon, Maxwell, Elias, Cleo, Marissa and Diana, all survive him.  He also much loved his sons and daughter-in-law, Nick, Scott and Lisa.

“He was an ‘Everyman’ and yet a unique person at the same time. His circumstances shaped him. He led many lives. Survivor of the depression. Adventurer of the West. Beatnik of New York. Time and space traveler. Father and educator of all. Devoted friend and husband. Searcher of peace and meaningful comforts in the face of tragedy. A lover of writing, literature and classical music. Flowers and the ocean view. A father and grandfather like no other for better or worse. Hand in hand graceful and editorial in his path…”

A graveside service will be held on October 23, 2021 at 10:30AM at Green-Wood Cemetery, 500 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11232.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to Environmental Defense Fund, 1875 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20009, UNICEF USA, 125 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038 or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225.

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Service/Memorial Information
  • Graveside Service

    Saturday, October 23rd, 2021
    10:30 AM

    Green-Wood Cemetery
    500 25th Street
    Brooklyn, NY 11232

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