Barbara Jean Newton (SGT MAJ, USMC, retired) died peacefully in her sleep on Tuesday evening, February 6, 2024, in Ramseur, NC.
She was born on July 23, 1933, to Clifton and Thelma Johnson Newton in Colfax, Louisiana. She grew up in Pineville, Louisiana and joined the US Marine Corps after graduation from high school. Barbara briefly was stationed in New Orleans before receiving advanced military training and was promoted and transferred to Henderson Hall in Arlington, VA. Barbara was the first woman to hold the job title Administrative Chief in the Pentagon’s Office of Secretary of Defense. In that role Barbara served nine Secretaries of Defense in her career of 26 years. During her career she received the highest NCO rank of Sergeant Major. She was proud to serve the nine Secretaries of Defense as their Administrative Chief: Neil H. McElroy, Thomas S. Gates, Jr., Robert McNamara, Clark Clifford, Melvin R. Laird, Elliot Richardson, James R. Schlessinger, Donald Rumsfeld (his first tour), and Harold Brown. Secretary Brown retired her and presided at her retirement ceremony. Barbara was given special permission from the USMC to wear her dress blues on a daily basis in the Office of Secretary of Defense. At that time she was the only woman given that honor.
Barbara loved to cook and entertain her family and friends. She was known for her elegant dinner parties as well as for cooking hamburgers and ribs on the deck. Regardless of event, Barbara was always a gracious hostess who provided excellent conversation and lots of laughter.
She enjoyed football games, sitting on a beach, reading good novels, and great conversation. She loved her family and she loved her friends. She loved living in her cabin on Lake Jackson. She loved fishing from her boat.
Barbara is survived by her companion and dear friend of more than 30 years and Primary Caregiver, Sara Fitts of Ramseur, NC; her beloved 3 nieces, Denise (and Danny) Brown of Crowley, TX, Sonya Renee (and Michael) Lacore of Irving, TX, and Kim (and Bernardo) Cornejo of El Paso, TX; her great-niece Kristy (and Drew) Caperton of Ft. Worth, TX and their five children whom Barbara lovingly referred to as The Caperton 5; her great-nephew Jason Brown of Crowley, TX; her great-nephew Nathan (and Bekah) Brown of Fayetteville, Arkansas and their two daughters; her great-nephew Bobby Williams of Irving, TX; her great-niece Amanda (and Jacob) Weaver of Midland, TX and their three children and Barbara was so excited about #4 on the way; and her great-nephew and Godson, Austin Henderson of Frisco, TX. Barbara is also survived by her dearest and oldest friend, Joyce Weber (Captain, US Navy, retired) of Decatur, GA. She also leaves behind two dogs who loved her, Bernadette and Bell. Other special friends include Michelle Means of Bristow, VA, Robert Woodard and Lorrie and Greg Andrulis of Manassas, VA, and Jorge and Janet Rodriguez of Stafford, VA.; and special caregivers Carolyn Harris and Faye Cash, both of Asheboro, NC Barbara was also a dear friend of 40 years of Virginia Fitts whom she lost 17 weeks ago – and who along with Sheila provided a loving home for the past year and a half so that Barbara could live easier and more comfortably. The entire Fitts family loved Barbara Newton.
A celebration of Barbara’s life and memories will be held at a future date in Irving, TX.
Smith & Buckner will be serving the Newton family.
Online condolences can be made at www.smithbucknerfh.com