Senior Nation: Dixon House’s Hazel Newnam Celebrates 100 Years

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Pictured back row, left to right: Granddaughter Sheila Herbert, Sheriff Joe Gamble, Mayor Robert Willey, Senator Addie Eckardt, Delegate Chris Adams, Delegate Johnny Mautz, grandson Cooper Towers, and Wendy Towers. Pictured front row, left to right: Granddaughter Courtney Springer, daughter Debbie Kudner holding great-granddaughter Elisabeth Claggett, Hazel Newnam holding great-grandson Gabriel Claggett, grandson Bo Claggett holding great-granddaughter Francesca Claggett. Absent from the photo is great-grandson Cruz Springer.

She credits her long, healthy life to a good attitude, good friends and her Christian faith. Hazel Newnam, age 100, a resident at Dixon House for the last three years, embraces life. Fiercely independent, Hazel managed to live alone until coming to Dixon House. She had visited a friend at Dixon House for years and when it came time to make the transition to assisted living herself, Dixon House seemed like the logical next step. She recently gathered with family, friends and dignitaries to celebrate her 100th birthday. Newnam was honored with proclamations from Governor Hogan, the Maryland Senate, the Maryland House of Delegates, the County Sheriff’s Department, the Town of Easton, and even a letter from President Donald Trump. Music was provided by Cabaret-style singer Daryl Grant Lindsay.

She commented at the event, “It was so wonderful to celebrate with family. I think it’s wonderful they all remembered me.”

Newnam was born on August 2, 1918. A native of Clairton, PA, she met William “Bill” Newnam while he was working construction in Pennsylvania and after he had graduated from the Pittsburgh Aeronautical Institute. The two were married in 1940 and then Bill became a Marine and flew Corsairs in Japan as part of the U.S. peacekeeping efforts during World War II. The couple lived in Oxford in the late 1940s after the war ended. Bill brought a Corsair back to Talbot County to sell war bonds. Soon after, he purchased Maryland Airlines, a private charter business, where he continued his love of flying.

Bill imparted his love of flying to Hazel by teaching her how to fly when she was in her 50s. She comments, “The opportunity was there and I took it. I felt like I was doing something special and I enjoyed the whole experience. Knowing I could fly gave me confidence and Bill was really proud of me.”

The couple ran Maryland Airlines until the 1990s and during this time Bill also managed Easton’s Airport. They had two daughters, Suzanne Towers (now deceased) and Debbie Kudner. Today Hazel has four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

After her husband died in May 1991, the Airport name was changed to Easton Airport/Newnam Field, in memory of Hazel’s husband, Bill.

She states, “I tried to live the right kind of life. I stayed active with the Oxford Methodist Church, sang in the choir, lead the MYF, and served as a member of the WSCS. I also served a number of years as a volunteer for the Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.”

Hazel’s daughter, Debbie Kudner, recalls, “Mother was totally independent and had lots of friends. She used to load up the Cadillac, which I called the ‘Gospel Bus,’ and take trips up and down the East Coast with her church friends.”

Today, Hazel’s days are a little quieter, but she still enjoys getting out. The recent celebration at Dixon House was a testimony to her love of a good time.

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