By Kathleen Swift
Bunny Newton will be remembered as a loving husband, father and grandfather. Newton, who passed away January 27, 2019, following an extended illness, was a fixture in Joplin for many years. First working with his father, Newton opened Newton’s Jewelers in 1939 and later passed the business on to his son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Peggy Newton. He worked tirelessly through the years to make not only his business successful but the city of Joplin a better place to live.
Newton was a true patriot, and he and his three brothers all served their country during World War II.
“Dad was drafted out of the University of Oklahoma in January 1943 and fought in the Pacific. He was discharged in 1946 and returned to work in Joplin. He loved his country, and his military service was important to him,” said Brian.
Serving his customers in the best way he could was the hallmark of the devoted business man that was Bunny Newton. He and his wife, Jane, made 40 trips around the world during their business years to purchase diamonds, gold and pearls for Newton’s Jewelers, always looking for the best quality for his customers.
As a consummate businessman proud of his city, Newton served as vice president and president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, was a past city council member, a member of the board of directors of Downtown Joplin Association, a member of the airport board and served on numerous other city committees.
Newton was always looking to the future. He knew business must respond to change and new opportunities. In one instance, Newton and a local group of businessmen traveled to Germany to help bring F.A.G. Bearing (now Schaeffler Group) to Joplin.
Newton loved downtown Joplin and worked to preserve its history and to make it a vital part of the city. Brian said, “Dad was a true believer in downtown Joplin. He always fought for the city and the downtown area through thick and thin. He loved Joplin.”
Carolina Neal, of Neal Construction Group, remembered Bunny Newton fondly for the support he showed them.
“Jeff Neal and I fell in love with old buildings in downtown Joplin because Bunny Newton told us amazing stories that happened inside the Columbian Traders building. Every day for three years, he visited the site as we renovated the building. He also introduced us to the business community and city officials. He became our mentor.
“After we finished that renovation, Bunny asked us to help him restore what is today The Run Around Running Co, owned by Erik Bartlett. He was Neal Group Construction, LLC’s first client, and we owe him a lot.”
The city of Joplin will remember Bunny Newton as a friend and mentor who throughout his life gave his support and love to his family and championed the city he loved.