William Parsons Newhall

William Parsons Newhall

Died January 22, 1992

Bill Newhall prepared at The Taft School and lived in Trumbuell College during his undergraduate years at Yale. He majored in architecture and was involved in a variety of extracurricular activities, including managing the track team (in the glory days of coach Bob Giegengack) and being the drummer and manager of the The Restless Ones, a rock band at Yale which played at mixers both on campus and at the Seven Sisters. The band even cut an album, which never was released – but Bill dined out for years on the story of the encounter of The Restless Ones with the group that entered the studio to record after them Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons! Bill met Ann Clifford in 1967, when he was halfway through architecture school. At the time, he was taking the year off from his studies to gain some practical experience in an architecture firm – and still playing with a post-grad version of The Restless Ones. They married in 1970 at Yale’s St. Thomas More Chapel. Their marriage was a very happy one, a loving partnership of two very kindred spirits, utterly supportive of one another.

Bill received his M.Arch. degree from the Yale School of Architecture in 1970. He joined Herbert S. Newman & Associates, a New Haven architecture firm, ultimately becoming a partner. Bill came to be widely recognized as a superb designer and a great collaborator with other architects, always forging an excellent rapport with clients and with contractors and their crews. Throughout much of his adult life, a major Sclerosis. Bill never regarded his illness as a reason to expect less of himself, or of life. He soon determined that MS basically posed multiple logistical problems, most of which could be solved with enough effort and thought; and he pursued his career at full-throttle for nearly two decades. Canes, then crutches, then a wheelchair were simply how he moved around, not who he was. To inspect buildings under construction, he walked along girders with crutches or had himself hoisted up in the bucket of a crane.

For nineteen years, he played major roles in the design and construction oversight of awardwinning new buildings and renovations up and down the east coast. These ranged from prestigious private residences (including the one whose construction sparked a scene in the The Normal Heart) to jai alai frontons and public housing. The vast majority, however, were residence halls, classroom buildings, dining halls, libraries, and athletic facilities for colleges, universities (including Yale!), and prep schools. At Yale, his work included both new projects – the Cullman Indoor factor – but never a defining one – was Multiple Tennis Courts and Pierson-Sage Parking Garage – and renovations – of the Old Campus, Coxe Cage, Sterling Law School Library; The Yale Art Gallery, and Donaldson Commons for the School of Organization and Management.

Bill died at his home in North Haven on January 22, 1992 at the age of 48. In eulogies delivered at his funeral at Trinity Episcopal Church on the Green in New Haven, family friends and colleagues recounted stories of his wit, zest for life, and unflagging optimism, and their belated realization that MS had never really been easy for him – but he’d had the grace and the grit to make it seem like it was.

Bill’s son, Will, a talented musician in his free time, graduated from The American University in Washington, DC., and is now a graphics proces- sor architect at Nvidia Corporation. He lives in California with his wife Jean (Picardo) and their two daughters, Eleanor and Penelope. His daughter Kate graduated from Barnard College with a degree in the history of architecture after also studying at The American University in Rome, Italy. She is now the marketing director for Newman Architects in New Haven.

Bill’s wife Ann had begun her career as an archivist at Sterling Memorial Library’s Manuscripts & Archives Department and had been archivist of the Ford Foundation in NYC for several years when she put her career on hold to become her husband’s caregiver. After his death she established the archives of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in Maynard, MA; the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy; and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland; then returned to the U.S. to serve as executive director of the NHPRC, the grant-making affiliate of the U.S. National Archives in Washington, DC. She is now retired.