Neal M. Newberry
July 3, 1940 ~ November 3, 2013
Sadly, our dad, Neal Newberry, passed away this past Sunday surrounded by his loving family, after a very brief illness, which he fought courageously. He was born to Richard and Cora (Courtney) Newberry at West Plains, MO on July 3, 1940. Dad arrived in Wenatchee in 1956 by bus, with a suitcase and five bucks in his wallet, following his brother Fred, who had moved a year prior. Dad developed a strong work ethic at a very young age on the family farm in Missouri. While attending Wenatchee High School, as a member of the class of 1958, he worked many long hours at the Cascadian Hotel & Ridgefield Gas Station. He met our mom through friends when he was 18 and allowed her to take her driver’s license test not long after, in his car the day after she turned 16. His friends could not believe he let a girl drive his car and she was the only one! Dad and mom, Sherry Blankenship, married on October 7, 1960 in Wenatchee. After high school, he worked at North Central Chevrolet and in 1963, he started his first business, Neal’s Body Shop and Towing. In 1966, dad and mom purchased property on Miller Street in Wenatchee and built a building for the business. In the late 1970’s, he started Newberry’s Frame Service. While dad ran the businesses, mom worked alongside him as the bookkeeper. In 1982, Dad started Newberry Logging and purchased trucks for him and Fred to drive. In the early 2000’s, he sold the logging trucks and focused on other trucking services with Newberry Trucking until his death. Dad married Pam Pierce on April 18, 1994 in Reno, NV and together spent their life residing in Cle Elum, where they operated their trucking business and made countless friends in the community.
Dad’s passion for cars and auto racing began in his teens. In the mid 60’s he purchased his first race car, a 1964 Plymouth drag car called ‘Family Affair’. It was then that our family’s passion for racing began! He owned and operated the Ellensburg Drag Strip with Tim Cameron. By the early 1970’s, as East Wenatchee Speedway had just recently been built, he took Kay up to the track to check it out. Six days later, while running the body shop during the day, he built and completed his first oval track race car at night. He quickly became a top competitor all over the Northwest and into California and Canada. He won hundreds of trophies and many championships at speedways such as Wenatchee, Evergreen, Yakima, Ephrata and more. In the late 70’s he purchased a former Richard Petty race car and raced with many big names in California. He later went on to build a Plymouth Volare Roadrunner kit car. In the late 80’s he drove for car owner Carl Bollinger and crew chief Frank Brandt. In 1989, he survived a horrific accident at the Richland Raceway, overcoming a broken neck. Doctors said he was lucky to have lived, let alone walk again! That did not stop him from climbing back into race cars and his longtime friend Garrett Evans provided a race car for him to drive. In August 1999 he was inducted into the Wenatchee Valley Super Oval Hall of Fame. For the past dozen years, dad and Pam would travel in their motorhome to NASCAR races in Phoenix and Las Vegas. Most of those years, Kim, Kay, Keith and their spouses and friends would join them. This past March his grandson, Zach, was old enough to fly in from college in Colorado to join them at Las Vegas. In June, he attended granddaughter Brooke’s graduation from Wenatchee High School and was looking forward to grandson Bryce’s future career following his passion for media and journalism.
Dad did not have an enemy in the world and was respected on and off the race track by all who knew and loved him. He was noted as ‘One of the Best from the Great Northwest’ on the race tracks. We have many fond memories of growing up with dad on the race tracks and boating and camping at Lake Chelan. He was a longtime member of the Lake Chelan Yacht Club and the Eagles Lodges in Wenatchee and Cle Elum.
We will miss him greatly and his spirit will always be with us every time we hear “Gentlemen Start Your Engines”. Love you Pops…GO FAST TURN LEFT!! VVRRRRROOOOOMMMMM!!!
Dad was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Steve and Fred; sister, Agnes; and son-in-law, John Winslow. He is survived by his wife Pam of Cle Elum; brother, James Newberry of Eugene, OR; children, Kim (Tom) Clark and Kay Newberry of East Wenatchee, Keith (Kristin Tofani) Newberry of Wenatchee, Natasha (Tony) Greig of Marysville, Kimberly (David) Hamlin and Dustin (Sarah) Pierce of Cle Elum, Jason (DeAnna) Pierce of Silverdale; grandchildren, Zach Winslow of Fort Collins, CO, Brooke Winslow of Bellingham, WA, Bryce Newberry, Tiffany and Sadie Tofani of Wenatchee, Krissy (Seth) Hamlin, Sara Hamlin, Cheyenne, Willow and Winter Henrickson, Jackson Pierce, Dylan Pierce; and great-grandson, Brantley.
A Celebration of Dad’s Life will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at the Eagle’s Lodge in Cle Elum, 220 N Pennsylvania Ave. Cascade Funeral Home of Cle Elum is in charge of arrangements. Donations may be made in memory of Neal to the Cle Elum Food Bank, 110 Pennsylvania Ave, Cle Elum, WA 98922.