York HS Running Rival and Sub 4 Minute Miler Ken Popejoy Eulogizes Joe Newton, photo by Jeff Benjamin
RunBlogRun Opines: Joe Newton, the legendary coach from York High school in Elmhurst, Illinois, affected many lives, near and far. At his memorial last month, Jeff Benjamin, RunBlogRun’s senior writer from Staten Island, visited Elmhurst, Illinois and provided the following reflections. We posted several photos on Instagram and have included them here, plus a couple of very special photos from our archives. We will miss you Joe Newton. You were a true America character, in every sense of the word, and you honored your sport, your school and your profession with your love, coaching skills and support of generations of young athletes.
Joe Newton and Jeff Benjamin, from Jeff Benjamin
The Memorial Celebration for Coach Joe Newton- “How Sweet It Was!”
by Jeff Benjamin“A Person’s quality of life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence no matter the field of endeavor”– Son Tom Newton espousing one his late father’s motivational sayings.
This past weekend scenes involving close to 1,000 people at York High School in Illinois could best be described by some of the following observations-
– Treasured Green jackets worn by men from 5 decades ago right through 2018 which, while designed in the different styles of their eras, possessed many embellished with the phrase “State Champions” no matter the year.– Old Men crying amidst emotional hugs and bear hugs, with colorful nicknames called out both loudly and quietly.– 29 Illinois State Title Trophies On Display– An isolated full bottle of Fanta Orange Soda standing along the corner of the stage.– All kinds of War stories told about tough training and races, replete with lung-searing workouts, rivalries, blisters, ankle twists along with draining puss out of ones’ foot, stories which were met with emotional laughter and awe.– National & International Running Royalty in attendance – Illinois Legends Ken Popejoy, Mike Durkin, Jim Spivey, Craig Virgin–long ago opponents of “The Long Green Line” coming together out of the Respect He Gave to these vaunted opponents.ALL for Joe Newton, whose love, respect and affection for all was returned a thousandfold in York’s School halls this past Saturday in a program consisting of speakers who left the audience, laughing and crying, yet inspired most of all.
Beginning with speakers of the present generation led by current York Principal Erin DeLuga and Bd. Of Education President Shannon Ebner, the tone was set with qualities which no doubt represented the late leader of “The Long Green Line”. Elements of sadness, laughter, inspiration, humor (a true understatement!) respect and love would be the recurring themes which would all be espoused to the audience by these speakers and those after them.
“The Long Green Line title was created by a sportswriter,” 1968 Team Manager and International Sports Agent George Andrews said before and during his speech at the ceremony. “We were at a meet and the gun went off and the York guys were all in a line in the back of the pack, the strategy being they’d pick it up and catch them all later which they did,” Said Andrews. “The sportswriter George Shingle wrote about seeing a “Long Green Line” and the name stuck.”
The other “Long Green Line” speakers included –Stan Redell- “He had a profound effect on the lives of others”Al Janulis -“Coach Newton always spoke of his late wife Joan as his beautiful polish bride and their 130 years of marriage – 65 Years for her and65 for me.”Peter DiCianni – “I was blessed with great parents, great family, great friends and Coach Newton who taught us to reach for the stars!”Then it was Ken Popejoy’s turn – “Mr. Newton will not be remembered for the trophies and awards but for his voice, heart and presence of his soul…He’ll be remembered by all of us whether we ran for him or against him.”Ken Popejoy also announced that“NIKE has informed me that they are donating $10,000 to the Joe Newton Scholarship fund!”Finally Son Tom Newton – “While my Family has shared him with you in forever moments, this will also be one of them.”Current York Coach Charlie Kern Concluded the ceremony by thanking All who attended and to consider contributing to the scholarship fund.As Popejoy paraphrased –“How Sweet it Was!”Bell Lap—– The Complete Videos (replete with many off-color stories) of the Tribute to Joe Newton can be seen at-Link Courtesy of Michael Newman– Scholarship information is available below
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