Reno NAACP leader and educator Ben Newsome dies
Memorial service set Saturday, Sept. 23, for longtime union member

RENO (Sept. 21, 2006) — Former Reno-Sparks NAACP branch president Benjamin B. Newsome, Sr., died on Sunday, Sept. 17, at Berryman Rehabilitation Center in Reno. He was 77.

Newsome broke a color barrier as the first African-American counselor in the Washoe County School District when he was hired at Procter Hug High School in 1968. He remained there until his 1998 retirement. He served as president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP from 1989 to 1990 and as president of the Northern Nevada Joint Council Masonic Order, presiding over Mason and Eastern Star organizations. The NAACP presented him with its lifetime achievement award at its annual Freedom Fund Banquet on June 3.

Mr. Newsome was a longtime volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, which constructs entry level housing for families of modest income. He was a longtime member of the Nevada State Education Association and the National Education Association.

Benjamin Bob Newsome was born on Feb. 7, 1929, in Brenham, Texas. He graduated from Prairie View A&M University with a BA in industrial arts. As a young teacher with the U.S. Job Corps, he was assigned to the Stewart Indian School in Carson City. He later transferred to Traner and Clayton middle schools in Reno before his appointment at Hug High.

His survivors include children, Benjamin Newsome, Jr., of Reno, Bridget Blaylock and Gidget Davis of Las Vegas, Kimberly Miller of Sacramento, Calif., Andrew Scott of Brenham, nine grandchildren, a sister, Katherine B. Newsome of Brenham, brothers, Elbe Newsome, Jr., and Mose Williams, both of Houston, Texas, and his special friend Alice Nelson of Oakland, Calif.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Addie Mae and Elbe Newsome, Sr.

Visitation will take place from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, at Ross, Burke and Knobel Mortuary, 2155 Kietkze Lane in Reno.

A memorial service will be conducted Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Second Baptist Church, 1265 Montello St. in Reno. Visitation begins at 9:00 a.m. with the service at 10:00. a.m. conducted by Rev. William C. Webb.

Information sources

Delores Feemster

Washoe County School District: Lisa Scurry confirmed Mr. Newsome's status as the district's first African-American counselor.

Ross, Burke and Knobel: Don Manni confirmed the Reno visitation time and location. The paid obit in the Thursday, 9-21-2006 RGJ was incorrect.

Orlean Boyer at the Second Baptist Church confirmed Rev. Webb's officiation at the service.

Information on parents and survivors came from the Reno Gazette-Journal family-paid obituary of 21 Sept. 2006, page 6c.

Other biographical information came from the official program of the NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch Freedom Fund Banquet program, 6-3-2006.

Berryman Rehabilitation is the new name of the former Physicians Hospital, currently listed in the SBC white pages at 359-3161.


EDITOR'S NOTE: The above is just the latest example of why journalists rather than advertising departments should be in charge of obituaries. Had Mrs. Feemster not taken action, those wanting to pay their respects on Friday would have been directed to Sparks instead of Reno because of incorrect information in the family paid obituary. Mourners would also have been given the wrong time for the Saturday memorial service. Click here to access the correct 9-22-2006 Reno Gazette-Journal story which resulted from the above press distribution.

Un-dissing the Dead—>The campaign against forcibly-paid newspaper obituaries

Updated 26 June 2017

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