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David Newcomer

Published: Monday, June 23, 2014 12:46 p.m. CDT

MILL VALLEY, Calif. — David Newcomer died peacefully at his Mill Valley, Calif., home on Tuesday, May 27, after a valiant struggle with bladder cancer. He was 74.

The son of Joseph O. Newcomer (d. 1985) and Mildred Shugart Newcomer (d. 1991), David was born in Wewoka, Okla., on Feb. 10, 1940, and grew up with his older brother, Richard (d. 1972), first in Tiskilwa and then in Princeton, his mother's hometown.

He graduated from Princeton High School in 1958, where he played football, basketball and ran track. He won the state pole vaulting championship his senior year. He studied philosophy at Illinois Wesleyan, graduating with honors in 1962, and went on to the Theological School at Drew University, Madison, N.J., where he received his Master of Divinity degree in 1966. David was ordained an Elder in the United Methodist Church, and served as Campus Minister at the Wesley Foundation, University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls from 1966 to 1969.

He and his wife Meg, whom he had met at Drew and married in 1968, moved to Marin County, Calif., in 1969, where they have resided since. David received an Master of Social Work degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1972, and spent the rest of his career in public service, most notably with low-income seniors in San Francisco. He was Executive Director of Services for Seniors (1979-82), Executive Director of the San Francisco Senior Centers (1982-96), and Program Manager for the City of San Francisco Commission on Aging from 1996 until his retirement in 2004.

David had a special passion for Japanese gardens and spent more than 40 years visiting, photographing and researching gardens in the U.S., Europe and Asia. He wrote three guidebooks on public Japanese gardens in the Western U.S., and made many presentations on the subject.

David is survived by his beloved wife Meg, sister-in-law Yolanda Newcomer, nephew Richard Newcomer and his family Nathalia and Sebas, of Medellin, Colombia; his niece Jennifer McCollough and her daughter Audrey Burke of Baltimore, Md.; cousins Don Anderson of Galesburg and Nancy Wallace of Winnebago; Meg's siblings, their spouses, and many nieces and nephews on the East Coast and in Canada; and a worldwide family of treasured friends.

For those who wish, messages may be left at his site on CaringBridge.org. A celebration of David's life will take place in Mill Valley in late July.

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