Former House speaker Buddie’ Newman dies at 81

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 14, 2002

[10/14/02]Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives for 12 years C.B. “Buddie” Newman died at his home in Valley Park on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2002. He was 81.

“He was a gentleman’s gentleman,” said Milton Goza, the president of the Issaquena County Board of Supervisors. “He did a lot for our county.”

Mr. Newman grew up in Valley Park, an unincorporated farming town on U.S. 61. His father, J.C. Newman Sr., worked for the railroad, and the 41-year legislator was born in a section house that stood beside the tracks that ran through Valley Park. In retirement, Mr. Newman bought the old house and restored it to the point where it is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and with the Mississippi Heritage Trust.

R.V. Grey of Vicksburg is probably one of Mr. Newman’s oldest friends.

“I first met him back in high school 60 years ago,” Grey said. “I played baseball for Holly Bluff and he played for Cary.”

Although the two were rivals on the ball field, they became close friends, and that friendship blossomed into a lifelong respect.

“I don’t believe there was a better fellow any place in Mississippi,” Grey said, adding that his friend would help anyone at any time.

Mr. Newman was a veteran of World War II, having served in the Philippines. He was a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a member of the American Legion and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Following the war, Mr. Newman began working for Southern Natural Gas and was employed by the company for 43 years.

Mr. Newman also first entered politics following the war, being elected to the Mississippi Senate in 1947 and serving there through 1951 when he was elected to the House of Representatives. He retired from the House in 1988.

During his tenure, Mr. Newman served as speaker pro tem for two years beginning in 1974 when he and supporters pushed through the rule creating the post so he could preside in the place of Speaker John Junkin of Natchez, who was sick. He was elected speaker in 1976 and served until he left the House.

In addition, Mr. Newman was a member of the A&I Board of Economic Development from 1960 until 1984; served on the Budget Commission from 1964 to 1984; was on the Legislative Budget Committee from 1984 to 1988, serving as chairman in 1985 and 1987. He served as chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference in 1962-63 and chaired the Southern Speakers Conference in 1982.

Former U.S. Rep. G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery served in the Mississippi Legislature with Newman from 1960 until 1967.

“He had a lot of common sense about him, and he knew how to work with people,” Montgomery said. “He understood Mississippi politics and Mississippi people about as well as anyone I’ve known.”

At home in Valley Park, Mr. Newman had two interests, farming and railroading.

As a farmer, he operated a farm at Valley Park, planting cotton and then soybeans when the price of cotton fell.

His father’s employment by the railroad apparently generated a lifelong interest. Following his retirement, Mr. Newman acquired rail cars and some of the track formerly owned by the Illinois Central Railroad. In one of the cars, he began the Valley Park Railroad Museum and in another installed the desk, chair and other artifacts from his years in the state Capitol. He also owned a small, gasoline-powered railroad maintenance cart that he used to give rides to children on what he called the Valley Park Shortline Railroad.

He was a former director of the Mississippi Farm Bureau and of the Sharkey-Issaquena Hospital. He was a member and deacon of Valley Park Baptist Church.

In addition to his father and mother, Minnie Bell Prine Newman, Mr. Newman was preceded in death by a son, C.B. Newman Jr., who died at the age of 9 in 1955. Three brothers, Floyd Newman, Carl Newman and Jimmy Newman, also died before Mr. Newman, as did two sisters, Rachel Burt and Kathleen Lavecchia.

He is survived by his wife, Betty Petrus Newman of Valley Park; a sister, Louise Newman Bunch of Vicksburg; a brother, Horace Newman of Valley Park; and a number of nieces and nephews.

Mr. Newman’s body will be in the Capitol Rotunda in Jackson from 4 until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Valley Park Baptist Church with the Rev. Dennis Salley, Dr. John G. McCall, the Rev. Reese Kyzar and the Rev. Caley Nichols officiating. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the church. Burial will be at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg with Riles Funeral Home in charge.

Pallbearers will be Will Green Poindexter, Sonny Meredith, Charles Deaton, J. Walter Brown, Teddy Millette, Brad Dye, Sam Provenza and Allen L. Walker. Honorary pallbearers will be Neal Rhodes, R.V. Grey, Fred Wells, Bobbie Joe Smith, Perry Aden, Charles Hyde Weissinger, James McPhail, Marjorie Ostroffsky Bobbs, Jane Moore Raney, William Curtis, Clifton Porter, Dr. Daniel Edney, Dr. Joe Files, Ed Perry, Joe Blount, Frank Carlton, Robert A. Greenlee, Clarence Pierce, Devon Dallas, Charles Jacobs, Charles Williams, Robert Clarke, Phillip Robinson, Bill Wilkerson, Herman Glazier and Spencer Buddy Medlin.

Memorials may be made to the Issaquena Cancer Society, P.O. Box 200, Valley Park, MS 39177.