Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday's Obituary: William H. Newman

New York Times – August 11, 1918

WILLIAM H. NEWMAN OF N.Y. CENTRAL DIES. Former President, Who Planned Great Terminal, Expires at Hotel Biltmore in 72d Year. Rose from Station Agent. His Ability as Traffic Manager in the Southwest Attracted Gould, Hill, and the Vanderbilts.

William H. Newman, former President of the New York Central Railroad, under whose direction the plans for the Grand Central Terminal were conceived and executed, died at 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon in his apartments in the Hotel Biltmore. Mr. Newman had been in frail health for more than a year and about six months ago hope for his recovery was given up. Death was due to arterio-sclerosis. Mr. Newman was in his seventy-second year.

From the time of his resignation in 1908, when he gave up the exacting duties of his office after forty years of railroad service, he had remained as a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Central and the various allied companies, lending his advice and counsel and intimate knowledge of the affairs of the various departments. At the time of his retirement he had been President of the New York Central for eight years. He was succeeded in the office by W. C. Brown, then senior Vice President.

Mr. Newman was conceded to be one of the foremost railroad managers in the country, a reputation he secured as much in his conduct of the arrangements for the great terminal facilities of the Grand Central Terminal as for the conduct of the routine business of a complicated system of lines. His retirement, he explained in his letter to the Board of Directors, was due solely to his wish to spend his last days free from the burdens and strain necessarily incident to the position he held.

Praised by Directors. In a resolution adopted by the Directors, who included the late J. P. Morgan, W. K. Vanderbilt, F. W. Vanderbilt, Chauncey M. Depew, William Rockefeller, G. S. Bowden, H. McK. Twombly, D. O. Mills, and George F. Baker, it was set forth that Mr. Newman had devoted to the Presidency his whole time and energy and had shown marked ability in his treatment of the many complicated matters with which he had to deal. Mr. Newman was elected to the Presidency of the New York Central on June 8, 1901, to succeed Samuel R. Callaway. He was then 60 years old. After taking the reins of the New York Central he was installed as President and Director of the many railroads in the so-called Vanderbilt chain.

Born in Prince William County, Virginia, Sept. 6, 1847, a son of Albert Newman and Adelaide Fewell Newman, he got his education in private schools in Kentucky. He began his railroad career in 1869 as a station agent on the Texas & Pacific Railroad at Shreveport, La. His work soon attracted attention, and he was promoted until he was made General Freight Agent of the line in 1872. He held this post until 1888. His specialty had been traffic, and he served for a time as Traffic Manager of the road.

His Success as Traffic Manager. In June, 1883, he was appointed Traffic Manager of the Southwestern system of lines in Texas and Louisiana, embracing the Texas & Pacific, the International & Great Northern, the Galveston, Houston & Henderson, and the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railways. He resigned in 1885 to accept the traffic managership of the Missouri Pacific system at St. Louis. His ability as a Traffic manager had attracted the attention of the late Jay Gould, and it was he who put Mr. Newman at the head of the traffic departments of the Gould Southwestern systems. In August 1887, he was made Third Vice President of the Missouri Pacific by Jay Gould. Here his capacity for “getting business” was brought to the notice of the Vanderbilts and James J. Hill. In 1889 he was Third Vice President of the Chicago & Northwestern. At the invitation of Mr. Hill he entered the service of the Great Northern in 1897, but he had scarcely settled down to work before he was called to the Presidency of the Lake Shore to succeed Mr. Callaway, who had gone to the New York Central.

So successful was his administration that in June, 1901, he was called to New York to take the Presidency of the entire New York Central system. In 1905 he was made President of the two subsidiary roads, the Michigan Central and the “Big Four.” It was during this period – 1904-1905 – that Mr. Newman brought about the concentration in New York of all the officials of the smaller roads. His friends by this time had nicknamed him “The Homeless” for, accompanied by his wife, he spent most of the time on his private car, keeping constant watch on the affairs long the line of the railroad. When not “on the road,” Mr. and Mrs. Newman lived in a Cleveland hotel before they moved to New York.

For some time he made his home here at Fifth Avenue and Sixtieth Street. Recently he made his home at the Hotel Biltmore. In 1874 Mr. Newman married Miss Bessie Carter of Marshall, Texas. He is survived by his wife, who, with several close friends, was at his bedside when Mr. Newman expired yesterday. The funeral will be held at the Hotel Biltmore on Monday at 2:30 o'clock.

[William H. Newman is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York City, New York -- cgl]

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