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Celebrate a long life well lived

If ever there was a North Dakotan who embodied the term “entrepreneur,” it was Harold Newman. Newman, who was the founder of Newman Signs (later Newman Outdoor Advertising), died unexpectedly in his sleep Thursday at his home in Jamestown. He was 80 years old.

Newman took a small sign operation from a garage to one of the largest regional billboard and outdoor advertising companies in the nation. He maintained high standards, not only for his products but also for the employees of the family-owned business. He was a leader in adopting new technologies that changed outdoor advertising from simple billboards to multimedia light shows.

In some ways Newman was a larger-than-life figure because of his outgoing nature, strong beliefs and his willingness to advance and protect his right to do business as he saw fit. Never reluctant to challenge sign regulation he believed to be unfair, he often carried his message into the chambers of local governments. Just as he could be a charming and engaging personality, he also could be a formidable debater when the interests of his business were on the line.

In addition to the successful sign company, Newman was a philanthropist of note. His community-based values translated into donations large and small to causes and projects that improved the quality of life in the communities where he did business. Among the most visible is Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo, which is one of the most attractive and family-friendly mixed-use baseball parks in the country.

A family man who was father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Newman understood how family and community values were foundational to strong towns and a healthy society. He carried that ethic into the sign company’s work places, which now employ 200 people in five North Dakota locations and two New Mexico locations.

At every turn in his personal life and professional career, entrepreneurship of the best kind motivated Harold Newman’s life. His story is textbook lesson in how to do it right – how to take a good idea from a small start and build a business with staying power.

We join his family, friends and admirers in mourning his loss, and celebrating a life well lived.