Pat Newton ’51 has dedicated her life to improving her community. Lucky for Pomona College, she didn’t stray far from her alma mater. Newton married her husband Sanford, a Claremont McKenna graduate, just two days after Commencement. “Four years later I had four kids,” says Newton. “We’ve been married 60 years this June and I’ve been involved with Pomona College most of that time.”
Newton began her service with the Alumni Relations Office during her five-year reunion and hasn’t quit since. In addition to her involvement with every reunion in some manner, she’s participated in countless phone-athons and made many calls in between—especially during reunion years. She chaired the Annual Fund Alumni Network, a committee that coordinated ways to get alumni involved on campus both financially and as volunteers, and is currently finishing a three-year term on the Pomona College Alumni Board.
Newton is this year’s recipient of the Alumni Distinguished Service Award, which is bestowed annually in recognition of selfless commitment and ongoing service to the College.
“The College has benefited greatly from Pat ever since she was a student here,” says Craig Arteaga-Johnson ’96, director of Annual Giving. “It’s not just her generosity of time and energy. She is warm and friendly and a real can-do person.”
Newton says one of the reasons she enjoys her volunteer work is the chance to be on campus and she has lived nearby in Pomona in the same house for 49 years. “Most of the time, I’ve been the oldest person on the Alumni Board. First couple of times I did it, it was intimidating.
But they’ve all been very generous. And I’ve enjoyed the fact that they’re all brighter than heck and enthusiastic and work hard at what the Board does to ensure the relationship of the alumni to the College.”
Pomona isn’t Pat’s only community service passion. She has been involved in Girls Scouts her entire life, including being a leader while on campus at Pomona. She served on local Scout boards and committees, was the local council president, and spent five years on the national board of directors. She’s also involved internationally, raising funds for a small center for older girls in Mexico.
Her service to United Way was recognized with a Gold Key Award in the 1970s and both she and her husband worked with the Jaycees.
She and a group of community members founded a volunteer center in Pomona in the 1970s that assisted organizations in finding long-term volunteers and developing boards and committees. She is also a longstanding volunteer and board member with Mt. San Antonio Gardens. Newton still works with the Girl Scouts and with the Fairplex Friends, which supports the L.A. County Fair in an ad hoc way, including raising funds to provide buses for local school children to attend the fair.
Newton’s husband Sanford was a Realtor in Pomona for his entire career. While their children attended colleges other than Pomona, two of Newton’s grandchildren are Sagehens: Michael Bergeron ’05 and Christopher Bergeron ’14.
“I feel fortunate that I was able to go to Pomona,” says Pat, whose father Howard Wickersham attended Pomona and graduated in 1924. “There was no doubt in my mind where I was going to go to college. I didn’t apply anywhere else!”