Dr. Ernest Douglas Newton, age 75, of Walden, TN, died peacefully at home Thursday morning, June 28, 2018. A sixth generation Knoxvillian, Doug was born in 1942 to the late Ernest and Margaret Albers Newton. He graduated from Webb School (1960) and with highest honors from the University of Tennessee, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.
He graduated from The University of Tennessee College of Medicine, from which he completed his internship and residency. After his training in plastic surgery, he completed a microvascular fellowship at Vanderbilt University. Doug lived most of his professional life in Pittsburgh, where he established a distinguished career as a microvascular plastic surgeon and was a member of American College of Plastic Surgeons, along with numerous other professional organizations.
An internationally recognized lecturer and mentor in reconstructive and plastic surgery, he was awarded the esteemed Roche Award for his groundbreaking work in the treatment of brown recluse spider bites.
Upon retirement, Doug and his devoted wife, Robin, moved to idyllic "Summertown," in the township of Walden, TN. Influenced by his mother's and grandmother's passion for conservation and native plants, and his love of the natural world, Doug achieved Master Gardener certification and served on the board of Wild Ones.
His interest in botany, birds, and the environment, extended from his private garden to the Reflection Riding Arboretum Center and beyond. "Mr. Digger," (his childhood nickname) could always be found working in his garden laboratory, regaling his neighbors while sporting neon shoes and his father's hat, and dreaming of playing his drums with Tuba Skinny.
His early morning group texts to family members and friends, often filled with Latin quotes, references to Shakespeare, and funny emojis, provided him a platform for stimulating conversation which exceeded most mortal’s comprehension.
Possessed of a wicked sense of humor and big heart, he never gave up the mantle of Santa Claus, and he and his wife delighted in decorating his sister's front yard with colorful yard art, from flying pigs to gigantic inflatable brains.
A devoted father, son, brother, and friend, Doug was always a joy to be around. His keen wit, big heart, and humble generosity especially delighted his children and grandchildren, and his larger-than-life personality animated many family gatherings and performances. For Doug, the importance and influence of his family and its history can best be summed up in the words of his brother, Edward Newton.
With Doug, there was always the laugh, the finesse, the detail and challenge of intellectual repartee; and admiration of his prodigious talent in healing.
Missing Doug startles us as if pushing on a door we think will resist and falling through when nothing is there, because just the potential of sharing thoughts with him was so powerful. In thinking about Doug, we could generally anticipate a lot of his perspective, but mostly might not have a clue as to what he'd come up with. But he was the one guy, cradle to grave, that is of the same whole cloth that you understand, that makes up our robust heritage in which we revel.
He's our brother. We miss him.
Predeceased by his parents and eldest son, Henry, Doug is survived by his beloved wife, Robin, and constant canine garden companion, Lucy Deuce; brother, Edward Albers Newton (Diane), of Collierville, TN; sister, Mrs. Michael (Margaret "Meg") Aiken of Lookout Mountain, TN. Surviving children are Kate Stables of Cornelius, NC, and Nathan (Laiqa Hitts), Mackenzie (Mike Locke), Whitney, and Matthew Wicks-Newton of Pittsburgh, PA. Grandchildren are Jack Newton of Knoxville and Frances and Elliott Stables of Cornelius, NC; nieces Eleanor and Molly Aiken and Polly Kelly; and cousins Louise Burruss, Neill Townsend and Emily Patton.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Thursday, July 5, at 1:00, at Church Street United Methodist Church in Knoxville, TN, with Rev. Jan Wade and Rev. William Fowler officiating. The family will receive friends at the church following the service.
The family requests that memorials be made to either Tennessee Valley Wild Ones, 4918 Marlow Drive, Red Bank, TN 37415, or Old Gray Cemetery, 543 N. Broadway, Knoxville, TN 37917. Arrangements entrusted to Rose Mortuary Mann Heritage Chapel. Online condolences