Don and Rita Newman - Chapman Legacy Society
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Gifts Established:

  • Don and Rita Newman Endowed Provost Scholarship Fund | Est. 2011
brick engraved with name Don and Rita Newman

Don and Rita Newman

When it comes to charitable causes, one does not have to look far to find one or more members of the Newman Family hard at work. For more than three generations, the Newmans have built a proud family legacy of civic leadership and generous giving.

Tulsans Betty and Jay Newman – members of the age widely known as America’s Greatest Generation – did much to root their family into the community. He was the first of his line to live in Tulsa; she had journeyed here from Russia with her mother, Mary Kaufman. In the middle of the Great Depression, Jay and Betty started Newman’s Inc., an industrial supply company, building upon the experience he had gained working as a manager with W. Tulsa Pipe and Supply.

As their business flourished, Jay and Betty directed support to causes near and abroad, including the young state of Israel. The couple soon established a reputation for philanthropy and received recognition that included the Koah Award, given by the Israeli government in honor of their work on behalf of the nation’s cultural and economic development.

Mr. Newman died in 1974, just three days after his 72nd birthday, and Tulsa bid farewell to Mrs. Newman in 1992; she was 87.

Their children, Donald H. (Don) Newman and Sharna (Mrs. Irvin) Frank, carried forward the tradition of community engagement and generosity – work they pursued in active partnership with their spouses. In particular, Don and Rita (Eichenberg) Newman, (BS ’79) were cherished friends of The University of Tulsa for many years while also supporting local arts, social service and educational organizations and serving on numerous local boards and committees.

Don studied at the University of California at Berkeley, then served as president of the family firm, Newman’s Inc., and also founded Flo-Bend, Inc., a pipefitting and flange manufacturing firm. He sold both ventures in 1990.

Along with upholding a full schedule of volunteer work and civic engagement, Rita reared the couple’s children, Martin “Marty” Newman, Russ Newman, and (Shirley) Lynn Newman. She also found the time and energy to complete her college education during these active years – joining the growing number of “non-traditional” students of her time who returned to TU to realize that dream. She graduated in 1979 with a degree in history.

Rita’s achievements as a TU student no doubt helped foster the couple’s many deep ties to the University in the years that followed. Don and Rita gave unstintingly of their time, counsel, and financial resources to support many vital TU programs and initiatives, including the Globalization Program, the Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC), the Golden Hurricane Club and TU Athletics, McFarlin Fellows, KWGS, Nimrod International Journal, the TU Annual Fund, Friends of Finance and other TU projects. In honor of their generosity, they were recognized as members of the esteemed Chapman Legacy Society, the President’s Council, and the Circle Society.

Don also twice served as a TU Trustee (1990-96 and 1997-2003) and was named Trustee Emeritus upon his retirement from active membership. His long service helped to lead the University to unprecedented fundraising accomplishments in the New Century Campaign, which, in turn, ushered in an exciting new era of campus expansion and academic excellence beginning in the 1990s. Rita served as a member of the School of Art’s Liaison Board and was particularly dedicated to the TURC program and Gilcrease Museum.

Don passed away in 2007, and Rita in 2011, but their devotion to the community has now passed to the family’s next generation – Marty; Russ and his wife, Gail Newman (MA ’91); and Lynn. (Russ is president of Flight Concepts, LLC, an Oklahoma-based charter carrier. Marty is a Realtor® with Tulsa’s Walter & Associates. Lynn, who lives in New York City, is an author, painter, and game inventor.)

The members of this generation have widened the circle of Newman Family philanthropy in a way that honors the examples of their parents and grandparents. As stewards of their parents’ estate, they fulfilled their parents’ wishes with an extraordinary gift to The University of Tulsa. Perhaps as an outgrowth of Rita Newman’s later-in-life college experience, she and Don wanted to provide need-based scholarships not to freshmen, but to those already deeply invested in their undergraduate studies. In 2012, their children designated this gift the Don and Rita Newman Endowed Provost Scholarship Fund to support upperclassmen whose families are experiencing financial need.

The University, its faculty and staff, and most especially the recipients of this scholarship will be forever grateful for this exceptional endowment and for the continuing support of the Newman Family and their keen interest in all things TU. Their well-directed support will make a vital difference for TU students for decades to come.