LI’s Carnival King Dies
Lewis Newton, 92, founded Newton Shows supply company
Lewis Newton, a longtime Northport fixture whose carnival business supplied rides, games and prizes to nonprofit fundraisers across Long Island, has died.
Newton was 92. He built a reputation of friendship and a willingness to help his friends.
“Everyone he ever met liked him, and he helped everyone he ever met. He had a good network of people who would support him,” his son Michael Newton, president of Newton Shows, said.
Born in Brooklyn, Lewis Newton was a boatswain’s mate in the U.S. Navy during World War II. There, the lifelong swimmer trained with Olympic gold medallist Johnny Weissmuller, who was the first actor to play Tarzan in the movies.
“The running joke was: ‘Why didn’t they pick you for Tarzan, Dad?’” Michael recalled. “He would just chuckle.”
He also played baseball with TV’s “Rifleman” Chuck Connors.
“They all grew up in the same neighborhood,” Michael said.
Newton’s journey into the carnival business began upon his return from World War II.
“He got involved at a local parish bazaar near where he lived in Brooklyn, and I guess he was helping out there as a volunteer… There was a need to do something and I guess he started buying merchandise,” his son explained. After getting his start in supplying the carnivals with prizes, in 1949 he took the big leap toward supplying the attractions. That year, he bought a Ferris wheel for $9,300 after a parish priest suggested he “get some rides.” His future arrived in pieces, and Newton quickly had to figure out how to put the thing together.
“So I drove over to Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey and asked the guy who ran the wheel there if he could help me,” Lewis Newton said, according to a narrative provided by his family. “He saved my life.”
Considering he spent just $7,500 on the family’s Northport home in February 1954, the Ferris wheel investment was a gamble – especially with a fourth child on the way.
“It was a huge risk. It was very courageous,” Michael said.
That Ferris wheel made the rounds of the Catholic parishes in Queens and Brooklyn before Newton expanded in 1953, setting the foundation of Newton Shows. The company has since become the preeminent supplier of rides and games for nonprofit fundraisers.
For Newton, his livelihood was a family affair, and all of his children got involved in one way or another. Now, the fourth generation of the Newton family – his great-grandson Timmy – just joined the family business a few weeks ago.
“He was our mentor,” Michael said. He leads the company along with his brother Jon and his brother’s son, Jon Jr.
Lewis Newton is survived by his wife, Viola Joyce “Joy” Newton; daughters, Maryann Graziano and her husband Larry, and Carol Newton-Rumph; sons John and his wife Debra, Michael and his wife Kumhui, James and his wife Susan, and Robert and his wife Karin Stucchio; daughter-in law Karin Steyer; sister, Marjorie Ann Goeller; 16 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His son Thomas predeceased him.
A funeral Mass was celebrated Tuesday at St. Philip Neri R.C. Church, followed by private burial, with arrangements by Nolan & Taylor-Howe Funeral Home.
Memorial donations can be made in Lewis Newton’s name for Volunteer Services to: New York State Veterans Home, 100 Patriots Road, Stony Brook NY, 11790.