A Santa Monica resident for 47 years, Dr. Carole M. Newton, died last week at the age of 89. She was a professor emeritus at UCLA Medical School where she had taught since 1967. Ever upbeat and interested in everyone and everything, she had been a wonderful and inspiring neighbor of mine for forty years.
Carol was a devoted sports fan. She and I often watched Super Bowls and any game UCLA was competing in. Actually she was more than a fan. She was remarkably knowledgeable about sports, stemming from her college days at Stanford where she had played competitive baseball and basketball. She was such an interesting combination of talents.
For example, in 1958 Carol was credited with developing the first computer program to calculate electron therapy treatments, called the Univac I, C-10 Code. And yet, when watching a baseball game, she could also tell when an outfielder missed the cut-off man.
Carol was born in Oakland in 1925. As she would occasionally talk of her childhood, filled with achievements and breaking glass ceilings for women, I would say, “I’ve got to write a column about you.” She would smile and say, “Maybe soon I’ll let you.” Sadly, that day never seem to come, so this will have to do.
When Carol was born the world, especially for women, was vastly different than today. She grew up during the Great Depression, which she would joke, “Wasn’t so great.” And then, even though she was extremely bright, college for women was generally only for three fields: Teaching, nursing and the arts.
Carol was a genius in math, a field almost entirely dominated by men. But that didn’t stop her. In fact I don’t think anything stopped her. Even competitive sports for women in those days were often looked down upon by narrow-minded people. But Carol ignored them and wouldn’t let them deter her.
Receiving her B.A. from Stanford in physics in 1947, Carol stayed to earn her PhD in high-energy physics. She then went to medical school at the University of Chicago. As a med student, she worked as an associate scientist at the university’s Argonne Cancer Research Hospital and was among the first to investigate the use of analog computers in biological sciences.
Receiving her M.D. in 1960, Dr. Newton went on to intern at the University of Chicago’s Billings Hospital. In 1963 she began her teaching career as assistant professor in both medicine and mathematical biology at the University of Chicago.
In 1967 she came to Los Angeles, having been hired as an associate professor of the Department of Biomathematics and assistant director of the Health Sciences Computing Facility at the UCLA School of Medicine. Remaining there throughout the rest of her career, Dr. Newton was professor of radiological sciences and biomathematics and chaired the Department of Biomathematics from 1974 through 1985. She spent a life breaking barriers and following paths beyond those typical for a woman in her era.
As a neighbor at the Shores in Ocean Park, Carol was much beloved. During the last 10 or more years, she suffered from a variety of physical ailments that even made walking difficult. But she worked as hard as ever at UCLA and never once complained. Just the opposite.
Carole was always positive and encouraging others. It was remarkably inspiring as it would take great effort for her just to walk to her car each morning using her walker for both balance and to carry her briefcases. After a long day at UCLA she’d return at night exhausted but always have the energy to ask how you were doing.
Dr. Carol Newton will be dearly missed by her family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and thousands of students whom she has taught and mentored over more than five decades.
UCLA Medical School is making plans to honor Carol and when they do the Daily Press will publish an advance announcement. In the meantime, may she rest in peace.
Jack also writes Laughing Matters which appears in SMDP every Friday. He can be reached at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth or firstname.lastname@example.org.