In Memoriam: William Albert Newton

Title: In Memoriam: William Albert Newton

Authors: Germaine and Clare Gregg, Eugene Shearer and Dudley Bolyard

Publication: The Outcrop, April 2013, p. 25

obit-aprilWilliam (Bill) A. Newton, a longtime member of RMAG born in 1912, celebrated his 100th birthday last July 21 and passed away at his home in Littleton, Colorado on December 24, 2012. Bill grew up in Decatur and Urbana, Illinois and St. Petersburg, Florida. At 12, he joined the Boy Scouts and achieved the rank of Eagle with 42 merit badges. Majoring in geology, Bill received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in 1935 and 1937, respectively, from the University of Illinois. He worked for the Illinois Geological Survey during this entire period. While working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he attended Stanford and completed all of the course work required for a Ph. D. in geology.

In 1940, Bill left Stanford and joined the Carter Oil Company (a predecessor of Exxon) in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and remained with Carter until 1949. By then Bill had arrived in Denver. Inspired by early successes, he became a consulting geologist. Bill was instrumental in the discovery of the Battleship Field in North Park near Walden, Colorado. His surface and subsurface geological expertise, coupled with his promotional abilities, were critical to this discovery. He also found oil and gas in the Piceance and Denver Basins. Bill is perhaps best remembered for founding and becoming the first president and chairman of Rocky Mountain Natural Gas Company, which laid the first pipeline in the Piceance Basin, bringing natural gas to Aspen and other towns on Colorado’s western slope.

An avid golfer, Bill built one of the first homes on the Columbine Country Club golf course and is said to have been playing a round there as the tragic flood of 1965 roared down Plum Creek and the Platte River valley. Determined to sink his last putt, he ignored the insistent warnings broadcast from the government helicopter flying overhead. Bill’s attachment to Columbine is legendary. The community needed water, prompting Bill to have a friend in the seismic business drill a dozen wells that delineated a shallow aquifer about 80 feet thick. Water from this aquifer is still used to irrigate the golf
course. Bill twice served the Town of Columbine as Mayor.

Bill joined RMAG soon after moving to the Denver area. He served as Counselor in 1958 and as 2nd Vice President in 1963. He also was a member of AAPG and other
scientific societies, and the author of at least 7 technical papers. His many friends will always remember him as affable, outgoing, sincere, and a highly competent organizer, administrator, and geologist.