Newman ends lifelong association with ‘Y’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 29, 2008

FRANKLIN—Pat Newman may be in his 36th year of professional service with the YMCA, but his affiliation with the agency goes back to his youth.

Most recently serving as executive director of the James L. Camp Jr. facility, the 58-year-old has announced his retirement.

“I started my association with the Y back when I was 6 or 7 and I was learning to swim,” he said. “I’ve been associated almost all of my life.”

Newman ended up joining the swim team back in the Danville Y he grew up in, then became a lifeguard and also taught swim lessons. In addition, he joined the Leaders’ Club.

“I’ve held almost every position in the YMCA from volunteer to the top job,” Newman said.

With a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., Newman was right at home at the YMCA.

“I started out in Salisbury, N.C., at the Salisbury-Rowan YMCA as associate physical director,” he recalled. “I was responsible for the youth physical education program and aquatics.”

From there, Newman went back to his hometown Y to be physical director and was responsible for the entire physical education program, including gymnastics.

“I stayed there two years and then moved to Franklin for the first time in June 1976,” he said. “I worked here as the physical director and associate general director until January 1984.”

Newman then worked at the C.B. Pennington Jr. YMCA in Baton Rouge, La., before receiving an opportunity of a lifetime in October 1985.

“During my career, I always wanted to start a YMCA,” he said. “I was always so impressed by what Martin Pearson was able to do with this YMCA.”

Pearson was the first director of the local Y. The facility was something that the National Council of YMCAs initially thought would not be supported by a community our size.

“I was the first director at the Newberry, S.C., YMCA,” he said. “Newberry is about 45 miles west of Columbia.

“It appealed to me because it was a small town similar to Franklin. It gave me a chance to see if I could start a Y and make it work.”

It was very successful, according to Newman, and programs and swim lessons were run out of ented facilities. He also started the first youth soccer program there and ran the youth basketball league for children from kindergarten to eighth grade.

In 1990, plans were in the making to build their own facility when Newman left to become executive director of the YMCA in New Bern, N.C.

He found himself back in Franklin in 2001, and took over the executive director position after Tom Pearson retired.

“I didn’t want to leave Franklin the first time,” Newman said. “But I knew Tom would be in his position for some time, and I needed to (move) for my career.”

Newman and his wife, Sybil, resided here when both of their children were born. Tyler, 30, and his wife, Meredith, live in Wilmington, N.C., and Natalie, 26, lives in Astoria, N.Y.

He noted that while he really doesn’t have any solid plans for retirement, he will spend more time visiting family, including his mother, who still lives in Danville, and he hopes to play a little more golf.

“I’ll still be involved in the community,” he said. “I’m secretary of the Franklin Rotary Club and on the board of directors at Paul D. Camp Community College. I intend to continue (serving in these capacities).

“We have no plans to move anywhere. Everything we want is right here.”

Newman said the Christian principles on which the YMCA’s mission is based and the partnership between volunteers and staff have been common threads among the YMCAs where he’s worked.

“It makes it the best non-profit organization in the world. Nationally the Ys make an impact every day, but the Ys in smaller towns make an even greater impact.

“Although some of them run the same programs, they are not cookie cutter Ys. Each tries to meet the needs of the community.”

He said he was fortunate to have worked with dedicated volunteers and hard-working staff members.

“YMCA is truly a community effort,” he said.

Associate Director Kathy Roberts is serving as interim director until the board determines what it will do to fill the position.

Newman continues to help at the Y and is serving as a consultant for Roberts and the board. His official retirement date is March 1, with a celebration in his honor to be held in February.