Lewis J. Newton, a long-time Northport resident founder of carnival company Lewis J. Newton & Sons (Newton Shows), died Tuesday at the Stony Brook Long Island State Veterans Home. He was 92.
His family confirmed that after spending several days under the care of hospice, he passed away peacefully. He had suffered his first stroke in 1990.
In 1949, Lewis Newton, then a soon-to-be father of four, who installed insulation for Western Electric during the day and who was already trying to make ends meet by also supplying prizes and stuffed animals to church bazaars, took the chance when a Brooklyn priest asked him to find a Ferris wheel they could rent. Newton invested his entire savings of $9,300 in a Ferris wheel, which was delivered in pieces. Not knowing what he was looking at, he needed to hastily enlist the help of a guy he had befriended who ran a similar wheel at the Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey.
That Ferris wheel was the first amusement ride to make the rounds of the Catholic parishes in Queens and Brooklyn. Newton soon acquired additional rides from an amusement park in Levittown that was built in too-close proximity to a place serving alcohol and was shut down by the Town of Hempstead. In 1953 the company expanded and Newton was able to quit his job and focus on growing his business. Over the years he employed not just his children but many young people from the local community.
When the Diocese of Brooklyn split and formed the Diocese of Rockville Centre to serve Nassau and Suffolk he felt there was opportunity out on Long Island. His first contract on Long Island was with St. Raphael’s in East Meadow. Many of his original “partners in fun” are still customers today.
From early April through the end of October, Newton Shows usually services two events each week. The primary goal is to help local churches, schools and non-profits raise necessary funding to provide services to their members and community. Newton prided himself on putting an emphasis on maintenance and safety above all else.
Now, 64 years later Newton Shows is Long Island’s premier family owned traveling carnival company on Long Island. Two of Newton’s seven children, John and Michael, as well as his grandson John Jr., currently operate the family business. Newton Shows is headquartered in East Northport.
“Back in 1988, when I was a newly ordained priest at St. Mary’s in East Islip, I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Lewis. He provided gentle and kind guidance through my first parish carnival- which was quite successful," said Msgr. Vlaun, C.E.O. and President of Telecare TV. “He wore his faith on his sleeve and he had the ability to bring entire communities together outside of the church building. Through his partnership, churches and parochial schools have raised millions of dollars. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of building a friendship with the family and have officiated at Newton family baptisms. May God grant him eternal rest.
Lewis J. Newton was born November 30, 1920. He is survived by his wife “Viola Joyce” Joy (McDonald). Loving father of Maryann (Larry) Graziano, John (Debra), Carol Rumph, Michael (Kumhui), James (Susan), Robert (Karin Stucchio), and the late Thomas (Karin Steyer). He was cherished by his 16 grandchildren and one great granddaughter. Lewis is also survived by his sister Marjorie Ann Goeller.
Reposing at Nolan & Taylor-Howe Funeral Home, 5 Laurel Avenue, Northport, NY.
Funeral Mass 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Philip Neri Church, Northport, NY. Visiting hours Monday 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.