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Melvin Newman '72 May 3, 2021 10:38 AM updated: May 3, 2021 11:00 AM

Dr. Melvin Albert Newman
July 5, 1943 – March 28, 2021

Dr. Melvin A. Newman, age 77 of Jackson, passed away on March 28, 2021 in Bells.

He was born on July 5, 1943 in Marlin, Falls County, TX to the late Adolph R. and Lydia Koerth Newman. Dr. Newman began his career working on a seismograph crew in East Texas. He earned his B.S. in Agriculture and M.S. in Ag Education at Sam Houston State, and went on to earn his PhD in plant pathology at Texas A&M University.

He joined the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at the University of Tennessee in 1973, where he served on the Extension faculty until his retirement in 2012. Dr. Newman built a plant pathology research and extension program that is nationally and internationally recognized for its cooperation with commodity groups, industry, regulatory agencies, the media, and colleagues. His award-winning work focused on diseases of major field crops including corn, cotton, soybeans, and wheat. He pioneered the use of distance diagnosis procedures to quickly identify plant disease occurrence in West Tennessee, established a laboratory to assess parasitic nematode populations, and patented a method for injecting pesticides at reduced rates in the planting furrow.

Melvin would quickly tell you that his greatest pleasures were that he was privileged to serve farmers that produce our food and fiber while providing stewardship of our natural resources and working with agents and students to see them reach their potential. In addition to all of this he still found time to raise a fine family, serve his church and community.

Dr. Newman is survived by his wife of fifty-six years, Joyce Feldmann Newman of Jackson; two daughters, Lori Newman Thompson (Chase) of Cleveland, TN and Lisa Newman of Jackson, MS; two grandchildren, Joshua Graham Thompson (Reghan) of Chattanooga, TN and Barrett Newman Thompson (fiancé Victoria) of Memphis, TN; and one sister, Jeanette Newman Schrader (John) of Chilton, TX; niece, Sarah Rummel (Ryan) and children, Levi and Abigail of China Springs, TX; sister-in-law, Janet Cason (Jim) of Lago Vista, TX; nephew, Troy Yoakum of The Woodlands, TX and children, Keaton and Kohen Yoakum of Kilgore, TX.

Private funeral services for Dr. Newman will be conducted on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 at 1 p.m. at Concordia Lutheran Church. At the families request, the funeral service is private for family and invited guests only. The service will be livestreamed from the George A. Smith and Sons Facebook Page for those that wish to attend virtually. Family and invited guests will gather for a private viewing prior to the service. Burial will be in Highland Memorial Gardens.

Active pallbearers to serve will be Bob Hayes, Scott Stewart, Wesley Crowder, Blake Brown, Owen Gwathmey, and Dan Smith. Honorary pallbearers will be Jim Brown, Paulus Shelby, Kerman LeBoeuf, and Gary Lentz.

Donations can be made to the Dr. Melvin A. Newman Scholarship Fund at UT Agricultural Extension Service on 605 Airways Blvd in Jackson or Concordia Lutheran Church in Jackson.

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