January 14, 1916 - June 30, 2013
Dwight Bennett Newton, Western novelist and long-time Bend resident, died June 30, 2013, of age-related causes, at age 97.
Mr. Newton was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on January, 14, 1916, to Otis L. and Grace (Thompson) Newton. He grew up and had his schooling there, including a Master's Degree in history from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. While attending college, he met Mary Jane Kregel of Nebraska City, Nebraska. They were married January 29, 1941.
Mr. Newton first came to Bend, Oregon in May, 1943, to serve for a year in the classification office at Camp Abbot, an Army Engineer training center located at the present site of Sunriver. After WWII, he returned to Bend and made his home here, with a few interruptions, ever since.
While still in college, Mr. Newton had begun selling stories to Western magazines and he chose this as his profession, later switching to booklengths. He authored 74 novels under various pseudonyms; some of the best-known titles--all published by Doubleday&Co., and laid in Central Oregon--were ”Crooked River Canyon”, ”The Big Land”, ”Hangman's Knot”, and ”Disaster Creek”. One of his Westerns, ”Range Boss” (Pocket Books, 1949), made publishing history as the first work of fiction to be issued in the form of an original paperback novel, without having first appeared in hard covers. It sold 450,000 copies, launching what has come to be a major branch of the publishing industry.
In the late 1950s, Mr. Newton worked for a time in Hollywood as a writer and story consultant for ”Wagon Train”, ”Death Valley Days”, ”Wells Fargo”, and other television shows. Returning to Bend in 1965, he lived here continuously thereafter.
He was the last surviving member of a group of six authors who, in 1952, pooled their efforts to create Western Writers of America, Inc., a professional organization of writers, editors, publishers and others, concerned with the Western in fiction, nonfiction, and on the screen. Today WWA, which he served for ten years as a board member and its first secretary-treasurer, continues operations with a constantly growing international membership.
His chief interests were history, literature, and music. In the 1970s, he conducted classes in fiction writing at Central Oregon Community College, and at the Haystack summer school at Cannon Beach. Bend authors Arlene Rife, Duncan McGeary, and the late Patti Dunaway, all sold their first novels after taking his course.
Mr. Newton was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, and one great grandson. He is survived at the home by his wife, and also by two daughters, Jennifer Kirkpatrick of Crooked River Ranch and Janet Schutte of Bend, as well as three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
At his request, there will be no services. After cremation interment will be in the family plot at Tumalo Cemetery. Autumn Funerals is in charge of arrangements.