Sadness weighed heavy on the hearts of many as they learned one of the area's most beloved and respected educators had died.
Marvin Ray Newton, of Viola died Sept. 23 at his home. He was 67.
Newton recently ended a long run of educating others. After 46 years of working in public schools -- Viola, Mountain Home, Norfork and Ozark, Mo. -- including 32 years as the superintendent of Viola, he retired in June.
Throughout those 46 years in the public school system, Newton's name has become synonymous with dedication and patience as a leader. "Nothing seemed to rattle (Newton). He didn't panic when faced with troublesome circumstances ... Because he had such a great understanding of how schools operated, he knew that things would work out," said Newton's successor, Viola Superintendent John May.
Professionally Newton was loved by his peers and revered as a compassionate coworker, mentor and friend. "(Newton) would encourage others not to underestimate what they could accomplish," May said. "Although it has been a great honor to be chosen as his successor, it still doesn't seem right. The only superintendent that I and many others have ever known at Viola was Mr. Newton."
Respect also followed Newton away from his career. "I've known (Newton) for a long time, and he really was a great man. He and his family are all really good people," said Fulton County Sheriff Walter Dillinger. "And everyone knew he really did a lot for the (Viola School District)."
"No matter where I went in the state, whenever people found out I was from Viola, inevitably they would ask about Marvin Newton," May said of his predecessor's reputation.
Newton was also an excellent basketball player. He was a gifted student/athlete who utilized his talents to earn a full scholarship to Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees. He also received a specialist degree in education from the University of Arkansas.
Newton was married to Judith Lynn Hopper on June 3, 1978, at Flippin, and together they raised four children.
He was a member of the Viola First Baptist Church and the Arkansas Rural Association Educators. He served on the board of directors at the Bank of Salem and the Association of Educational Administrators.
He is survived by: his wife, Judy, of the home; two sons, Gary Marvin Newton and wife, Alanna, of Little Rock and Lance Newton and wife, Lindsey, of Flippin; two daughters, Lisa Newton of Olive Branch, Miss., and Sharmin Jennings and husband, Chris, of Viola; a brother, Evert Newton of Greenbrier, Ark.; a sister, Ruthy Davis of Moses Lake, Wash.; and five grandchildren, Casey Akins, Austin Jennings, Logan Jennings, John Henry Newton and Lilliana Newton.
He was preceded in death by his parents; four brothers, Ray Gene Williams, Leon Williams, Richard Newton and Grady Newton; and four sisters, Frances Ruble, Ruby Davis, Veda Brazzell and an infant.
Funeral services were held Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the Viola Baptist Church with Bro. John Hodges officiating.
Interment was in the Flippin Cemetery under the direction of Barker Funeral Home.
Memorials may be made to the Marvin Newton Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Bank of Salem, P.O. Box 338, Salem, AR 72576.