While other football fans reminisce this fall about the pre-COVID joys of packed stadiums, tailgating, and campus-wide celebrations, Jane Newton remembers watching 2019 college football on a tiny hospital TV screen. She particularly recalls jumping from her seat one Saturday to see the replay of Tide running back Najee Harris hurdling over a defender. “I had to get close to the TV so I could tell Lamar what happened,” she says of that day and other Saturdays she spent with her brother during his hospital stays. “He laughed and said, ‘that corner cabinet costs more than that 13-inch TV.’”
Like so many Alabamians, Lamar Newton was an avid sports fan. But unlike others, he spent most of the 2019 football season in the Ascension St. Vincent’s Birmingham South Tower. “He and his wife Martha actually moved here from Atlanta in October 2018 so he could pursue his medical care at Ascension St. Vincent’s Birmingham,” Jane says. “Moving here prolonged his life.”
Lamar was known for his zest for life. Like his father, the late attorney and Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation Board Member Alex Newton, Lamar loved people – and people loved him. He could find humor in anything and warmly welcomed hospital staff and visitors. When his children Katie Glover, Alex Newton II, and other family members visited on fall Saturdays, Jane would draw near to the TV, reading jersey names aloud so everyone knew who made the play.
“Throughout 2019 Lamar had been in some older parts of the hospital with 30-inch television screens, but he spent most of his time in the South Tower, where the rooms were larger,” Jane says. “The furniture was comfortable, but the whole family just laughed about the small TV in that large room.”
Lamar’s mom, Sue Newton, was more than willing to help. After all, Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation is practically a grafted branch in the family tree. Son Dr. Rob Newton, of Newton & King Neurology, practices at Ascension St. Vincent’s. Granddaughter Margaret Manuel, daughter of Kelly Newton Hammond, is past-chair and current member of the Foundation’s Junior Board.
They are a remarkable and generous family. For three generations this family has devoted their time, talents, and treasure to Ascension St. Vincent’s. While the Foundation often must channel its limited funds toward medical needs, the Newtons’ support has repeatedly helped us better bridge aesthetic gaps that influence our patient and family experiences.
“Because our father was on the Foundation board, we learned what the Foundation does for patients,” Jane says. “Even years ago, while our father was in the hospital, he was an advocate for Ascension St. Vincent’s patients. When your family is in this situation, you think about how to help others.”
And so, as Lamar finally went home late last year under hospice care, the family told him they were donating 32-inch TVs for every room on “his” fourth floor.
“It meant a lot to him to know that before he died December 27,” Jane says. “It may only be a TV, but Lamar knew that it brought people and conversation into the room, helping pass the time and get one’s mind off medical issues. As a family, it means a lot to know we might be able to honor Lamar in this way, to make a difference in others’ lives.”