He was born April 3, 1915, in Garrison, Ky., the second of a 10 children born to the late Thomas H. and Irene Sullivan Newberry. The family moved to New Boston, Ohio, where he graduated from Glenwood High School in 1933 as valedictorian of his class.
He did undergraduate work at two Ohio schools, Rio Grande College and then Denison University, where he earned a B.A. in 1937. Graduate studies were done at Anderson College (now University), B.Th., 1938, Oberlin Graduate School of Theology and Stanford University. He earned a Ph.D. from Duke University in Historical Theology in 1950. Honorary doctorates were conferred by Rio Grande, D.D., 1965 and Anderson University, D.D., 2002. He was ordained as a minister in the Church of God in 1937.
He retired in 1980 from Anderson University School of Theology where he was named the first Distinguished Professor of Christian Theology. He taught there for 32 years and was the seminary’s third dean, 1962-1974. Upon his retirement, he was honored by being named Professor Emeritus of Christian Theology. He married Agnes Marie Hilligas on Aug. 20, 1938. Before coming to Anderson, Dr. and Mrs. Newberry pastured Church of God congregations in Detroit, Mich., Cleveland, Ohio, San Jose, Calif., and Baltimore, Md. He and his wife started Pathways, an adult Sunday school class at Park Place Church of God, and led it for 40 years, concluding in 1997. They were also active members of a Quest Group for 50 years.
In Anderson, Dr. Newberry served on two of the church’s national agencies. He was on the Board of Church Extension and Home Missions and was its president from 1956-1972. He served as member of the Missionary Board from 1981 to 1991 and was president from 1983 to 1988. He and Mrs. Newberry served short-term mission/teaching assignments at Kima Theological Seminary in Kenya, East Africa, in 1972 and again in 1982. He was a 49-year member charter member of Mounds Kiwanis where he served in various offices.
Dr. Newberry contributed to many religious and scholarly publications and authored four books, “Primer for Young Christians,” “Responding to God’s Call…to Live in Christ,” “Soundings,” and “A Boy from Lewis County.” After retirement, he taught School of Theology extension classes at Warner Southern College in Lake Wales, Fla., and served interim pastorates in Kendall, Fla., Grand Junction and Colorado Springs, Colo., and Phoenix, Ariz., and traveled extensively at home and abroad.
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Agnes, who died April 16, 2009, and six siblings — four who died in infancy — and brothers Charles “Chuck” in 1991 and Jesse in 2009.
Survivors include daughters Kay (husband Don) Schlafer and Jill Dickerson of Anderson, Beth Backus (husband John Moe) of Noblesville, granddaughter Angela Lehr (husband Cameron) Ellison of Fishers, and great-grandson Ike Christian Ellison; sister Lillian Kyser of Kalamazoo, Mich., brothers Tom of New Boston, Ohio, and Howard of Portsmouth, Ohio; sisters-in-law Maralyce Newberry of Portsmouth, Ohio, Alma Newberry Powell of Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., Wilma Matusik of Cadiz, Ohio, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
The family would like to thank the nurses, aides and staff of Bethany Pointe Health Campus, SouthernCare Hospice, and Dr. Kelly Chambers, NP Deb Garner, and their staff.
The funeral service will be on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009, at 11 a.m. at Park Place Church of God, with Dr. David Markle, the Rev. Carma Wood, and the Rev. Phil Bruzzese officiating, with visitation one hour before the service at the church. Visitation will take place on Monday, Dec. 28, 2009, at Rozelle-Johnson Funeral Service in Anderson from 3 to 7 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to Anderson University School of Theology (Newberry Scholarship Fund) or Park Place Church of God.