Cover photo for Charles Joseph Newlon's Obituary
Charles Joseph Newlon Profile Photo
1931 Charles 2022

Charles Joseph Newlon

October 23, 1931 — March 30, 2022

Charles Joseph Newlon (1931-2022), CF retired USFS, a very interesting fellow. He was a Friend to everyone he meets, a Kind family man, a Forester, and a Great Storyteller who lived a long wonderful happy life.

Charles Newlon was born in Berkeley, California in 1931. Charlie is survived by his wife Barbara Jones Newlon (married June 1, 1957, Denver, Colorado), son, Douglas Wilson (wife Deb), daughter, Kathryn Lynn Sonnenfeld-Squires (husband Rick Squires), grandchildren U.S. Navy First Class Petty Officer Jake Sonnenfeld, and Jessie Sonnenfeld.

He loved his mother, Jessie (Jess) Margaret MacCornack Newlon; his father, Wilson (Bill) Earle Newlon; and “now his big brother John Wilson Newlon has a playmate”. He was also greatly loved by nieces and nephews (Pahl, Rudy (wife Kathleen), Wilson, Cindy (husband John), Rick (wife Ruth), Nancy, Larry, Brian, and Karen) and all their 14 children and 9 grandchildren.

As Charlie requested, we have gathered some of his stories and highlights, and accomplishment of his life during his 90 years a shared below: These along with other stories and experiences provided by family, friends, and colleagues will be shared in a video obituary that is being collected and archived.

If you would like to contribute to the video program called “Travels with Charlie”, the adventures, the legend of the “Big Kahuna”. Please send your story or experience(s) along with any photos (if available) about Charlie to his son [email protected] Doug will then work with you to capture an audio record (preferably in WAV or MP3 formatted file) to go with photos (if available).


Charlie was an adventurous young man spending his summers balancing both work and play. He used his Boy Scout wordsmanship skills on many occasions. He found joy and accomplishment the day he strapped on his trusty backpack and canteen filled with refreshment when he hiked up the back side of famous "Half Dome” mountain located in Yosemite National Park in California. Despite the temperature at the top, he celebrated his victory by camping close to the summit. Frequently, the young lad traveled by train alone from Berkley, California to visit his mothers’ kin, The Staples. His Uncle Walter Staple, a railroad man himself, was the “Mayor of “Dog Patch”; a log cabin he built in the 40’s which is in Red Feather, Colorado. This homestead getaway is still in the Newlon family. “Dog Patch” is still well cared because of the generations of forest service families that Charlie and Barbara cherish as very special friends.

On one trip to “Dog Patch” Charlie learned valuable listening skills the hard way. In the story “Fifty Minutes in Ogden”, Charlie writes:

“I asked the Railroad Porter twice, to be sure, “How long do we stop here?”  His answer was a bit garbled, so I again asked him. Again, he answered, “about 50 minutes.”  I ran back through the railroad coach to announce to my newly found friend and seat partner Jose’ Rojas, “Hey we’ve got 50 minutes.” That was time enough before the train leaves Ogden to find a cheap place to eat and to take that picture of the old engine that Tom Lewis (a close childhood chum) wanted. After all, I was an “experienced” traveler, having made the trip from Berkeley, CA to Cheyenne, WY the year before to spend the summer with my Aunt Ethel and Uncle Walter at the cabin in Colorado cutting firewood. Of course, I wasn’t about to get off the train that summer. I was just a green 14-year-old kid then” …stay tuned eager readers, to hear the rest of this story.

Chaz was a studious fellow starting his advanced education at Santa Rosa Junior College. Here he learned how to write and hone his public speaking skills by acting and cheerleading in his spare time. He was not a shy fellow but one who was always thinking outside the box. Demonstrated in a story he often told his son Doug. About how he used his charm to become the favorite, most successful vendor at his college football games, where he was able to sell more peanuts and soda pops than his fellow hucksters. His secret was to entertain the spectators. To get their attention of his would-be hungry customers, he was known to shout at the top of his booming voice, “Get your double-jointed goobers here.” Now captured, he could easily sell them liquid treats and hot steaming “tube steak sandwiches” finishing the ensemble of yumminess, he offered to his eager sports fans.

Charlies’ brother Captain John was an accomplished pilot for the U.S. Air Force in the Korean War. Following in his big brother foots steps, Charlie also joined the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War becoming an Airman, but serving stateside in California. Private Newlon was assigned to the Photographic Squad, learning more about being a “shutter-bug” to capture “images in time” to enhance his forestry work and accompany his stories for his audience.

Charles rounded off his formal education in 1956 by obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Forestry at the Colorado State University (CSU). But his training and skill development never stopped.

Charlie wrote an interesting story about his summer break from CSU. The “Wyssen Skyline Cable Logging” story is about the summer he set up and operated a revolutionary new overhead cable logging method known as the “Wyssen System” for moving trees that saved time and timber in 1955. The principles are still used by logger today. He also worked summers planning trees, managing lumber yards and sawmills, learning the hard knocks of the trade!  Taking a break from all this hard work, Charlie was one of five forestry students that rafted through the Colorado River rapids of the Grand Canyon. He later wrote the story called “Log of the Vinegaroon” of this quest. The Vinegaroon (a harmless Scorpion) was the name of the six-man World War Two US Navy surplus inflatable rescue raft the crew had to patch up before it could be inflated. Charlie wrote: “It was NOT the safest way to spend spring break, but the river rats’ thought it was sure exciting!” He captured many other classic stories during this time of his life including: “Grubbing Ribes – The First Day” – started with “It was the first day on the job in July 1950 at the Twin Springs Blister Rust Control (BRC) in California. It was in the Plumas National Forest in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I thought I’d be fired.” …friends you will have to wait to hear the rest of this story.

For the next 8 years, Charles was a Colorado State Forester, who took pride in work dealing with all aspects of State and Private Forest Land Management, Timber Management, Fire and Disease Protection. During his watch he would gladly jump in his state issued jeep crossing miles of fields and rough terrain to battle over 100 forest fires. He fought many a spot fire by himself before they become nasty wildfires. He couldn’t carry a substantial amount of water and he was frequently challenged by weak radio signals for help. But armed with true grit and his trusty multi-function (fire fighters’ best friend), all mighty “Pulaski”. He was always determined to prevent any fire from getting out of hand on his watch. But this duty meant spending many days away from home getting filthy and stinky. When he finally got a change to clean up one day, it ended up in the story “The 4-Inch Bathtub Ring”, about a cattle rancher who was so grateful to Charlie for saving his land. He rewarded Charlie, by letting him use his bathtub to clean up!  To reach some of these hot spots, Charlie sometimes had to cut down fences to clear a path to reach his foe. After extinguishing the flames, the challenge was not over. Charlie would later need to retrace his tracks so he could repair the fence before any cattle had time to escape!

For 5 years he educated his fellow Coloradoans’. Weekly, Charlie got up at the crack of dawn and schlepped an hour each way from Ft. Collins to a Denver TV station. Here he hosted a live TV program called “CSU Outdoors” promoting forestry that was broadcasted in black and white.  Our trusty storyteller wrote another one called “The Bridge and the Burro Song”. This one is about his time managing a crew of high school students.  Their mission was to spray down trees with a brew of ethylene dibromide and diesel fuel that were infested with Bark Beetles. These little burgers were fixed on destroying the forested mountain sides that Charlie was charged to protect. The challenge was a broken-down bridge on the South Platte River near Deckers, Colorado was in the way of completing their mission and a Burro who determined not to cross that broken bridge. The only solution to get his tree saving supplies and crew was to wade across dragging the stubborn old Burro. Friends, you will have to stay tuned to hear how a song helps Charlie save his trees. Later, for the Colorado State Forest Service, he was charged with Forest Utilization - improving best use and production of forest products.

The USDA Forest Service caught wind of Charlie’s accomplishments protecting State Land and Forests. They recruited Charlie to help raise public awareness and protect Federal Lands. His first charge was from the Portland, Oregon Office. He was assigned to support Public Affairs and Forest Research in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska traveling to numerous research station in each state.

Next it was off to Missoula, Montana for more public involvement assignments in Forest Management and Protection efforts. For one assignment, C J Newlon prepared and narrated several volumes that contain scores of Public Service Announcements, called “New-from the Forest Service”. Theses 15 to 30 second segments were broadcasted on radio stations reaching listeners throughout the Northwest FS regions.

Charlie then moved his family to Fairfax Virginia as he was now assigned to the Washington D.C Office where he worked on National level Public Involvement and Environmental Education Programs. This included the very popular and successful Woodsy Owl, Smokey the Bear and Keep America Beautiful programs. Charlie traveled a lot in the Eastern FS Region which resulted in, you guessed it, a story called “The Orange”. While driving home attending the summer Allegheny Society of American Forester meeting in State College, Charlie took a break when he saw a trail head for the Appliacian Trail and grabbed the chance for a walkabout in the woods. The friendly forester of course made a new friend on the trail. He meets a fellow who was trekking the entire trail from Georgia to Maine. Charlie writes “He stood bearded, in shorts, and sturdy boots with a heavy looking backpack. His name was Matt but his told me that his “trail name” was “Monkey” and he was from Boston, MA” Charlie offered Monkey an orange and he eagerly accepted it. Thus, Charlie made a new friend in the woods and found another story to tell. …friends you will have to wait to hear the rest of this story.

Charlies’ kids had just left the nest for school and careers, when he gets the call to pull up roots once again. This time he was assigned the role as the Director of Public Affairs, Eastern Region, stationed in Milwaukee, WI. Charlie and Barbara loved Milwaukee and soon meet lots of new friends. The people in Milwaukee were all very friendly and loved to get together and have fun, and Charlie and Barbara fit right in. Charlie found a new kick in his step and spent time in the northern forest playground camping, hiking, cross country skiing and canoeing in the outer boundary waters with his new friends.

Charlie’s next gig brought him back to the east coast to the FS Office located in Broomall, Pennsylvania where he became a liaison between the Eastern Region National Forests and 20 NE State Foresters. Later he became an Adjunct Professor, sponsored by the Forest Service, at Delaware State University at Dover, DE. He taught Dendrology, Intro to Forestry and Intro to Urban Forestry. Later, in Pennsylvania, he taught Arboriculture, at Williamson College of the Trades.

Also, over the years he built a vast library of books, drawings, and tree identification artifact to support his work and teachings. So much so, that in 2008 the Delaware State University Herbarium established “The Newlon CORTICARIUM”, a collection containing over 1,000 specimens of ca. 3” x 5” bark that are curated and accessible to the scientific community. To improve the educational experience for his students he and wife Barbara collected many specimens from various trees for his classroom lectures. Including the leaves, bark, fruits, pictures, drawings from the tree. He donated these to the DESU Herbarium “XYLARIUM” collection. Please visit the following URL to find out more about DESU Herbarium

Charlie “The Professor” had the ability to not only absorb knowledge in all thing’s forestry and other disciplines; but he also had a unique way to articulate them in interesting ways for others and his students could relate. He took immense pride in helping, sharing, mentoring, and teaching others. When his son was in grade school, Charlie came to Doug’s school several times. Not just for attending parent-teacher after hours meetings. Charlie took off work to helped Doug’s science teacher by guest teaching. Charlies’ efforts helped the students understand some “difficult to learn” topics. Truth-be-told, his son was very embarrassed at the time that his father was teaching his class. But in the end, the young son later in life was able to better understand scientific topics because of the “The Professor’s” unique teaching approach.

For his loving daughter he spent time supporting her artistic talents. He once framed her artwork using the wood gathered from barn wood, from a painting she made of the same barn. He enthusiastically attended all her piano and dance recitals, including when she returned to the stage to dance as an adult. Along with his wife, they supported her Girl Scout days escorting the troop on camping outings. He would help both his kids with scouting events and 4-H projects that won prizes at county and state fairs. He taught them how to ski, build kites that fly, catch fish, ride bikes, build/fix things, work hard and care for others. Building the foundations to be strong, independent, and successful children.

Charlie was very active with the Society of American Foresters (SAF), and the International Society of Arboriculture. He retired from the USDA Forest Service after 40+ years but continued his forestry work. He became a self-employed Forestry Consultant in Environmental Education, National Resource Interpretation and Management. Lucky for us he also used the time to download his experiences from his photographic memory and but pen to paper creating his many stories.

Charles Newlon was also very active with New Jersey State Forestry Service, NJ SAF, and NJ Forestry Association, where he was highly respected by his peer. So much so, his colleges honored the man and his work by establishing the “Charles Newlon Forestry Annual Forum.” A program of the Good Stewards Coalition and venue created where speakers are invited to share ideas and discuss important NJ Woodlands Stewards program topics. As one of his fellow colleges wrote:

“Charlie was an integral part of the NJ Woodland Stewards Program since its beginning in 2011. I first met Charlie at the 2015 NJWSP along with state Forester Lynn Fleming and Dr. Mark Vodak, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Forester. Charlie made the program what it was, an informative and wonderful weekend absorbed in the woods. He was an instructor for several sections of the program.  His favorite contribution was with tree identification and the field sessions. But his most memorable contributions in addition to his photographic documentation was his stories by the fireside that entertained us in the evenings.

As the Editor of the NJ Woodland Stewards Program Newsletter, Charlie, and Barbara, interviewed 14 Woodland Stewart landownersfrom Cape May Point to High Pointto feature their stories in the newsletter.

Charlie announced his final retirement late in 2016 and moved to Maryland with his family. Charlie was also editor and founder of your NJ Woodland Stewards Online Newsletter before passing the responsibility to me in the spring of 2017. Please join us in remembering Charlie for his contributions to forestry over his long career. As an extension of his family, his forestry family sends condolences during this time of loss.”John Hooven, Editor, NJ Woodland Stewards Program Online Newsletter

But Charlie was NOT just a forester, he was a close friend and mentor to many, and a very devoted family man. He was a faithful loving husband to Barbara Jean (Best Mom ever) sharing a close relationship thru 64 years of happy marriage. A lot of the work that Charlie accomplished during his career as a “Professor” and during his post retirement forestry consulting service was only possible because of the dedicated support of his wife and partner Barbara. Her attention to detail, and artistic skills enhanced his work with her white glove touch dressing their work with a big red bow.

As all Forest Service families know, a US Forester is expected to embrace the opportunities of relocating to support the overall mission of the organization. That said, Charlie, supported by his loving wife Barbara – with kids in tow – moved quite a few times and lived in many different states across the country before, during and after his career. He lived in many wonderful cities in Colorado, Oregon, Montana, Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. You would think that all that moving his family that many times would be stressful on his family – changing friends, schools, and homes every few years. But that was farther from the truth. His kids and wife loved to “Travel with Charlie.” Every place they relocated was an opportunity for new adventures, meeting new friends and gather experience for stories to tell around a campfire. Frequently on weekends the family would throw a dart at state map they were living at the time. They would then take the road less traveled to explore the “tagged” destination and places along the way with eager anticipation of the treasures they always uncovered.…friends you will have to wait to hear the rest of these stories and experience in a program called

“Travels with Charlie”, the adventures, the legend of the “Big Kahuna” that we are producing in honor of Charlies’ great life of adventures and accomplishments.


Charles J Newlon Professional Experience

19561964 – All aspects of State and private Forest Land management; Timber Management, Fire, Insect & Disease Protection. Hosted TV Program promoting forestry.

19641967 – Colorado State Forest Service: Forest Utilization – Improving best use and production of forest products.

19671971 – U.S. Forest Service: Public Affairs, Forestry Research in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska

19711974 – U.S. Forest Service: Northern Region, Public Affairs, Missoula Montana

19741984 – U.S. Forest Service: National Public Involvement and Environmental Education Programs, Washington D.C.

19841988 – U.S. Forest Service: Director Public Affairs, Eastern Region, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

19881992 – U.S. Forest Service: Liaison between Eastern Region National Forest and 20 NE State Foresters

19882005 – Adjunct Professor

                        Delaware State University: Dendrology; Introduction to Forestry; Introduction to Urban Forestry

                        Williamson College of the Trades: Arboriculture

19922015 – Self-employed Forestry Consultant in Environmental Education, Natural Resource Interpretation and Management


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Charles Joseph Newlon, please visit our flower store.

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Friday, April 22, 2022

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