Longtime Evergreen resident John B. “Jack” Newkirk passed away on Feb. 9, 2019, just a few weeks short of his 99th birthday. Newkirk was born in Minneapolis in 1920. He was the 4th child of a Schenectady, General Electric Co. senior scientist, Burt L. Newkirk, PhD. and Louise Newkirk. His brother was Horace Newkirk; sister’s were Muriel and Virginia; and brothers-in-law were Bernard Cain and Doug Frost.
Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Schenectady, N.Y. In 1941, Newkirk earned an engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, worked at Bethlehem Steel and subsequently volunteered to serve in the U.S. Navy in 1942, where he was a diver in the South Pacific during World War II.
After the war, Newkirk earned his doctoral degree at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, followed by post-doctoral work as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Cambridge (King’s College) in England. In 1951, he married his wife, Carol, inside historic King’s College Chapel. Newkirk worked as a research scientist at General Electric prior to becoming a professor at Cornell University. In 1967, he brought his family to Jefferson County.
Jack then took a position as Professor within the Chemistry Department at University of Denver in 1967 through retirement. He has guided hundreds of graduate degree science students. He has lived in Evergreen, CO since that time but, has spent a portion of almost every summer since then on Lake George, with his family and friends.
While most of Newkirk’s career was spent as a college professor at the University of Denver, he and his wife also developed a number of medical products, including the Colorado MicroDissection Needle, the Denver Peritoneo-Venous Shunt, the Denver Hydrocephalus Shunt and several other life-saving devices. He received numerous humanitarian awards including the Colorado Governor’s Citation and the Carnegie Merit Award, and was inducted into the Jefferson County Hall of Fame. Newkirk also enjoyed running, camping, skiing and cycling, and completed the Ride the Rockies several times during his 80s. Beekeeping was also one of his life long hobbies.
Jack grew up living life to the fullest on Lake George during all seasons, including camping for the entire summer with his family, while dad worked!! He utilized numerous canoes, row boats, outboard, and inboard motor boats, including the family’s 1920 Faye and Bowen!! Which we still have. Skate sailing and skating was a favorite winter pastime, including recovery from having fallen through the ice! Of course, hiking and running everywhere he could do so! The family purchased a cabin, “Tongue Rest”, on the eastern shore of Tongue Mnt in Turtle Bay in the 1930’s.
As a 19 year old in 1939, Jack rode a 1932 Harley Davidson motor cycle, with a friend from Schenectady to NYC World’s Fair, down though Pennsylvania, into Virginia. Then solo, he headed west until he reached the 1939 World’s Fair in San Francisco!! This has been documented by his son John J Newkirk in a book, “The Old Man and the Harley” ! Read it, there is a whole section regarding Lake George!!
Jack is survived by his children John J. (Melissa) Newkirk of Evergreen, Victoria Newkirk Lierheimer of Evergreen, Christina (Gary) Newkirk Seldomridge of Pennsylvania, and Chinese Son – Jeff (Li Wei) Bi Hua of China; grandchildren Amanda, Kathryn and Sarah Newkirk, Christopher, Abigail, Faith and Rachael Lierheimer, Tyler and Benjamin Seldomridge, and Hansen Bi.
He was preceded in death by his wife Carolyn Newkirk; son Jeffrey Newkirk; and son-in-law Christopher Lierheimer.
Contributions in memory of John B. “Jack” Newkirk may be made to one of the following –
Lake George Association, 2392 State Route 9N, PO Box 408, Lake George, NY 12845