Deborah Newton, 76, died Tuesday, April 30th surrounded by family in Lake Geneva, WI after a courageous battle with cancer. Born May 7th, 1942 in Rockford, IL, Debby Lee Joan was the only child of parents Milton & Anne Linden.
She is survived by her husband, Joseph Zimmer of Lake Geneva; son Brett Newton (Shane) of Chicago, IL; daughter Paige Newell (Brett) of Chesnee, SC; grandchildren Jorgan Newell (Stephanie); & Emily Newell (fiancé Trey), all of Boiling Springs, SC. Additional family includes uncle Ralph (Betty) Johnson of North Port, FL; Zimmer in-laws & nieces/nephews, former husband Roger Newton (Melody); special life-long friends endearingly nick-named the “Magnificent 7,” and cat Mario.
Deborah was a loving mother, grandmother, wife, friend, artist, and an inspiration to many. She graduated in the top of her class from Rockford’s East High School in 1960 where she was editor of the yearbook - Argus. She then earned her 2-year diploma from the School of Radiology Technology at Rockford Memorial Hospital where she began employment before starting her family.
In her youth, she was awarded the Katherine Lord Art Scholarship through the Burpee Art Museum and began taking dedicated art classes in 1968 - studying under Andrew Langoussis and Tom Heflin. She was an early and frequent artist accepted into the Greenwich Village Art Fair and has since been honored with the Jessica Holt Award by the Rockford Art Museum which added her work to their permanent collection.
In 1984, she developed a downtown Rockford commercial building into lofts for herself and others to live, create and show their work into what became known as 317 Market Street. She orchestrated this enterprise for over 20 years which, along with other local pioneers, helped re-establish vitality into downtown. With Mr. Zimmer she developed other unique properties nearby and in Lake Geneva.
Through much of her adult life, Deborah endured multiple health challenges, yet none of these obstacles dampened her boundless spirit to live, love and grow. She loved pursuing education, expanding her intellect, traveling to new lands, and encouraging people to grow – always with her gracious smile and friendly spirit.
On Saturday June 29th, a celebration of her life will be held at Bethesda Covenant Church, Rockford, IL (815) 397-4212 where guests are invited to share tributes. An offsite reception downtown will follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Deborah Newton Trust sent via the church.
Debrah Newton Trust C/O Bethesda Covenant Church
2102 East State Street, Rockford IL 61104