The Rev. Earle A. Newman, S.S.J., a member of the Josephite Fathers and former editor of The Josephite Harvest, the religious order's magazine, died July 27 of kidney failure at St. Joseph Manor in the Poplar Hill section of North Baltimore. He was 84.
After 45 years as a priest, Father Newman retired in 1998 and moved to St. Joseph Manor, the home for retired priests of his order, the St. Joseph Society of the Sacred Heart.
The World War II Navy veteran held a variety of posts, including parish priest, vocation director, manager of the Josephite Mission Office in Baltimore and rector of St. Joseph Industrial School in Wilmington, Del.
For 18 years until stepping down in 1996, he edited the monthly Josephite Harvest from a Calvert Street office. The publication features articles on African-American parishes and parochial schools that are staffed by the Josephites.
Father Newman was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and reared in Manhattan, N.Y. After graduating from George Washington High School, he was a secretary at a New York savings bank while attending the American Institute of Banking at Columbia University and St. John's College. He had attended the Fordham University law school before he was commissioned an ensign in the Naval Reserve in 1941 and went on active duty that year.
He served in Washington with the Bureau of Ordnance until 1942, when he was assigned as a gunnery officer to the USS San Juan, a light cruiser, in the Pacific.
"He somehow missed the first ship he was assigned to, a destroyer, that was later torpedoed and lost. He always felt that it was God's intervention that saved him," said the Rev. Frank Hull, S.S.J., pastor of St. Benedict the Moor Roman Catholic Church in Washington.
Recalled to the Bureau of Ordnance in Washington, Father Newman was discharged with the rank of lieutenant commander in 1945.
"He was the first World War II veteran to enter the Josephites," said Father Hull.
The Rev. Eugene P. McManus, S.S.J., director of public relations for the Josephite Fathers, recalled, "We had a number of World War II veterans who saw a more profound view of life because of the war and decided to become priests. And I think this is what motivated Earle."
In 1945, he entered Epiphany Apostolic College in Newburgh, N.Y., to study for the priesthood. After completing his studies at St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, he was ordained a priest in 1953.
While serving as associate pastor at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church in New Orleans in 1954, he earned his private pilot's license.
"Earle decided to take the Josephite superior general on a flight to show him the advantages of flying between missions, and the plane bounced, frightening his passenger. Every time he told the story years later, the bounce got bigger," said Father McManus, laughing.
Father Newman was a member of the National Association of Priest Pilots and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. During an assignment in Delaware, he was a member of the Civil Air Patrol and had served as chaplain to the Senior Squadron in Smyrna, Del.
"He owned a beige Buick Roadmaster, which he drove like an airplane. He always drove priests traveling on business to the airport, and when we got in the car, we'd ask, `What's the ceiling, Earle?' and he'd say, `About 1,000 feet,'" said the Rev. Robert M. Kearns, S.S.J., superior general of the Josephite Community, laughing.
"And as we got out of the car, he'd say, `Tell the boys to keep the flags flying' at our missions. That was his favorite expression, and I guess left over from his Navy days," he said.
"He was warm-hearted, outgoing, gregarious and very likable," said Father McManus.
"He was always responsive to the needs of the people as they arose. If he could do something for you, he'd do it today, not tomorrow," said Father Kearns.
Father Newman was a man of wide and varied interests. He was a ham radio operator, a boater and a horticulturist. He had a greenhouse built at St. Joseph Manor where he grew and tended exotic plants. He enjoyed collecting and listening to classical music.
A Mass of Christian burial was offered Wednesday.
He has no survivors.