Mary Newman will be missed by Jamestown community

Mary Newman is remembered by friends and family as a great parent and benefactor of the community.

newman donation one
This photo shows Lynne Tally, left, executive director of Safe Shelter, Mary Newman, center, and her daughter, Kari Newman Ness, on Dec. 1, 2016, at an announcement of the Mary's Place project in Jamestown. John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Mary Newman is being remembered as a great mother by her family while she is also recognized by the community as a benefactor.

Newman passed away on Dec. 15 in Fargo at the age of 86. A memorial service was held Sunday, Dec. 19, at Hope Lutheran Church - South Campus, in Fargo.

"From my perspective and my sisters', she was such a great mother," said daughter Kari Newman Ness. "She wasn't critical, she was just a great mother."

Lynne Tally, executive director of Safe Shelter, which operates Mary's Place at Safe Shelter in Jamestown, said Mary Newman's lead donation made the facility possible.


"All of it was completely (possible) because of Mary’s kindness, her concern and her very generous heart," Tally said. "She wanted to make sure victims of domestic violence and their children had a safe place where they could escape what was happening in their homes. And it didn’t stop there. She and the whole Newman family have continued to support our mission and our vision. We could not be more grateful."

The support for Mary's Place at Safe Shelter came after Newman moved from Jamestown.

"Even after she had left Jamestown for years, she said, 'I'll help build this in Jamestown,'" said Tena Lawrence, a longtime family friend of the Newmans. "She had already been a lead donor of a Mary's Place in Detroit Lakes."

Mary's Place at Safe Shelter in Jamestown is a $1.3 million facility offering safe housing for victims of domestic abuse. Mary's Place at Safe Shelter opened in June 2018 and is one of three Mary's Places operated in the region.

The Newman family has supported many causes in Jamestown.

"She use to say 'Harold (Mary's husband) could cover the sports, I'll cover the more human needs,'" Ness said, quoting her mother. "It was important to her that we understood how important giving and sharing was."

Harold Newman was the lead donor for Harold Newman Arena, which is the home to the University of Jamestown sports programs.

Ness said her mother was always concerned about Newman Signs but not active in the business.


"Her role was home raising the family," she said. "But in the early days as the business was growing, she also knew the debt was hers too."

Mary Newman also enjoyed life in the community.

"She was very bright," Ness said. "She was a bridge player and went on bridge weekends back in the 1960s. That was not common for a woman in the 1960s."

Lawrence said kindness and family were the best words to describe Mary Newman.

"She had a kind heart and wanted to help," she said. "She definitely will be missed."

Tally said Newman will be missed by the whole community.

"Mary Newman was an amazing, kind-hearted, generous woman who gave so much to so many and asked for so little in return," she said. "The world is a poorer place without her in it."

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