Nick Newton dies at 84; Hall of Famer invented modern blocks

Nick and Sheila Newton at 2013 party for him.

About 20 years ago, working out of a Mt. SAC Relays booth, Nick Newton gave me a 50 percent discount on his starting blocks. I still have them — with “KEN STONE’ etched in the rail. His life and legend are etched in me as well. Contacted by his daughter Saturday morning about his death a little after midnight, I was humbled to be among the circle of friends notified. I had attended a 2010 Pomona surprise party in his honor and his 80th birthday party in 2013. By 8:30 p.m. Saturday, after talking with his daughter, Pamela Crisp; his wife, Sheila; and his old friends Annelies Steekelenburg and Doug Smith, I had written and posted an obituary on Times of San Diego. I shared it via social media and posted the link on the Track & Field News message board. But even with research in National Masters News (and this blog), the story falls short of adequate. Nick, even more than the Dos Equis guy, was truly “the most interesting man in the world.” I hope to hear from more of his world-class friends. He’ll be dearly missed.

Second from right, Nick was silver medalist in M60 100 at 1995 Buffalo worlds.

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April 1, 2018

12 Responses

  1. christel donley - April 1, 2018

    I did get the sad message yesterday, and also know, that Annelies annd other friends and family were with him till the end.
    Nick and Sheila, you have been wonderful friends.
    Now, all I can wish for Sheila, to be strong and know, how much we always loved and love you!

    And yes, I had blocks with my name on it.

  2. Jeff Davison - April 1, 2018

    Prayers to family and friends

  3. Richard Watson - April 1, 2018

    My most heartfelt condolences go to Sheila, Pam and the entire extended Newton family. He was one of a kind and a most special person whose full life we can all celebrate as a life well lived. He was an exceptional athlete, coach, inventor, family man and special friend to many. He was my running coach, mostly at a distance, for a few years, and a good friend. May he rest in peace.

  4. Milan tiff - April 2, 2018

    Let’s not forget to mention, Nicky was one of the best recruiters for the masters program in the early days. Back me up Stan (Whitley) A great man who looked you squarely in the eye.

  5. Leo Davis(Olympic Coach) - April 2, 2018

    Nick Newton invented the most precise block with all the angles of efficiency represented by degrees
    on a shaft and turning disk to adjust to the athletes angles of efficiency. These degrees of change permitted the individual to execute the most explosive, effective, aggressive and advantageous start.Indubitably, This starting block is an exemplification of Newton’s Law in Physics and an amalgamation of mathematical procedures and measurements.

  6. Warren Graff - April 3, 2018

    thanks Ken for including the photo from the Buffalo Worlds – I was a spectator there in ’95. I also have a set of those blocks and brought them to many meets over the years where no blocks were offered (Senior Games meets mostly)

  7. Ty Brown - April 3, 2018

    Any word on Masters funding for Malaga Worlds?

  8. Ken Stone - April 3, 2018

    Nick’s daughter reports that his public memorial service will be noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 7, at track stadium of Shadow Hills High School in Indio — 39225 Jefferson St ., Indio, CA.

  9. Ken Stone - April 6, 2018

    If the Gods allow, I will live-stream memorial services for Nick via Facebook Live on my own page:

    Starts about noon Saturday, April 7, Left Coast time.

  10. Jeff Davison - April 7, 2018

    Weather report for services

    Indio will reach the 90s F
    Winds have slowed down … and won’t be too bad today.

    If the football / track and field stadium is used …. there will be plenty of seating. Very nice facilities.

  11. Jeff Davison - April 7, 2018

    The family and friends put on a very nice service today. All walked a lap around the track for his last track and field meet.

    Some family took a couple jumps at the high jump pit.

    Great seeing several masters athletes (friends) there.

  12. Jack Karbens - April 25, 2018

    Nick and Anneleis made many friends on their trips to Hawaii. Hawaii Masters TC bought 8 of his blocks many years ago. He had such a smooth running style. He was always positive and an inspiration to all.

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