St. Louis businessman, scholar and philanthropist Eric P. Newman — an alumnus and major benefactor to Washington University in St. Louis — died Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, at his home in Clayton. He was 106 years old.
Born in St. Louis, Newman graduated from John Burroughs School in 1928 and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1932. He then returned to St. Louis to attend Washington University’s School of Law, graduating in 1935.
Following World War II, Newman began his career at Edison Brothers Stores Inc., where he was an officer and served on the board until his retirement. From 1988-2005, he served as president of the Harry Edison Foundation.
One of the foremost American numismatists of his generation, Newman’s lifelong fascination with coins and currency began at age 7, when his grandfather gave him a United States 1859 one-cent piece. He authored more than 100 books and articles, including the pioneering study “The Early Paper Money of America” (1967), which remains a standard in the field.
His private collection of U.S. and Colonial American coins and paper money is considered one of the nation’s finest.
Over the years, Newman and his family extended extraordinary generosity to a wide range of Washington University schools and programs. Their interests have included the schools of Medicine, Law and Business; the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts; and Olin Library.
Newman was a founding member of the Libraries’ National Council and, with his wife of 75 years, Evelyn, a Life Benefactor of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society. She died in 2015.
At the School of Medicine, the family helped underwrite the Eric P. Newman Education Center and endow two professorships, in addition to supporting many other programs.
In 2006, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum dedicated the Newman Money Museum, a state-of-the-art numismatics facility, in his honor. In 2016, the John M. Olin Library acquired one of the few surviving broadsides of the Declaration of Independence, thanks to the family. It will go on permanent display at Olin Library in May 2018.
He is survived by his son, Washington University Trustee Andrew E. Newman of St. Louis; daughter, Linda Newman Schapiro of New York; five grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Per Newman’s wishes, there will be no funeral or memorial service. Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of the donor’s choice. Messages of sympathy or remembrance may be sent to EricNewmanFamily@gmail.com.