Joan Newman

Obituary of Joan Newman

(nee Farmer) Wife of the late Barry George Newman, devoted mother to Duncan (Melody), Joanna (John) and Charlotte (Bruce). Much loved Granny to Patrick, Nicholas, Robert, Andrew, Peter and Robin. Predeceased by her sister Elaine Roy. Private family service. In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to Dans La Rue. Mum was small town royalty. She grew up in a frontier mill town in the Ottawa Valley, the daughter of a shopkeeper. After the war she set out for Europe with a friend, travelling by boat and train taking in the sights. Later, armed with a high school diploma and a typing course, she took an apartment in Ottawa. For the next 10 years she witnessed history, working with three prominent figures of the day. She was personal assistant to Duncan MacTavish, a lawyer, senator and advisor to governments. She worked for Paul Martin Senior, deputy prime minister and minister for health who brought in universal health care. Mum remembers discussions about the legislation to make seat belts mandatory in cars, prompted by the deaths of movie stars (and Duncan MacTavish). She was also present for sensitive talks with the Russians at the United Nations. She would fly to New York in a Canadian military plane, with her steel filing cabinet and typewriter, and set up shop in the Beekman Tower. She recalls going out on the town with the pilots, eating lunch at the Automat and enjoying New York in simpler more glamourous days. She worked for Mohammed Ikramulla, High Commissioner for Pakistan and one of the fathers of Partition. Joan took him and his family across Canada on the famous Vista train, visiting the mosques with ceremony. When Ikramulla was impressed with a desk in a scene in a Clark Gable movie, Joan had the job to contact Hollywood and buy it. After that time with diplomats and politicians, she married an engineer, Barry Newman, a Cambridge graduate who was a young full professor at McGill University in the field of aeronautics. In 1961 they bought the house in Montreal West that housed the family that Joan remained in until 4 days before her death. Joan is remembered as a strong personality, charismatic, well turned-out. Many people enjoyed long chats with her on her porch over the years. And, for those who are curious about longevity, she lived until age 95 with no major health problems even though she had smoked when it was popular, never exercised, and loved brown sugar. Joan's arrangements have been entrusted to the Boyce Funeral Home Ltd., 138 Daniel Street North, Arnprior.
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