November 2010 home page

  News Leader Remembered
John Kerridge | El Amigo Road


Memorial Service.  Photo Kaylee Emerson


With the Sandpiper going from strength to strength in its second decade as the “must read” guide to what’s going on in Del Mar, it’s hard to remember what a gamble it represented for the handful of us who got it going in 1997. Our first editor, Gay Hugo-Martinez had amassed an outstanding record in the United States Attorney’s office and as a member of the Del Mar City Council, but on the subject of newspaper editing, her resume was silent. And, with one exception, the rest of us were little better qualified. The exception, mercifully for us, was Chuck Newton.

The full range of Chuck’s activities in the eight decades that preceded his involvement in the birth and nurturing of the Sandpiper is beyond both my knowledge and my skill as a memoirist. But what I can tell you is that when a bunch of well-intentioned amateurs decide to start a newspaper, they had better have someone on board who actually knows how to take their deathless, but often less-than-perfect, prose and convert it into the printed word. And this was something, among many other skills, that Chuck knew about.

Oh, and he also knew, in those innocent days before Photoshop, how to “cut-and-paste” with real scissors and real glue. Plus, he had served in the trenches of Public Relations and had acquired an understanding of just how difficult it could be to communicate to the public at large the essential truths that would guide them towards intelligent decisions on issues ranging from water usage to view protection.
All of which could have been meaningless, or even counterproductive to the vision that the Sandpiper has always stood for, namely the protection of the “sense of place” that has made Del Mar such a desirable goal for both tourists and would-be residents. But in combination with his technical skills, Chuck brought to bear an intense concern for our natural environment and an equally deep commitment to the well-being of our community.

Full disclosure: He could be difficult to work with at times; “ornery” is a word that springs to mind. But my impression is that humanity has profited mightily from such orneriness over the years and Del Mar benefited handsomely from Chuck’s presence here.

When Gay stepped down in 1998, Chuck became editor of the paper for several issues before handing over the reins to me. Fortunately for all concerned, he remained deeply involved in production of the Sandpiper for many years.
History may show that other contributions by Chuck Newton could have been even more important to the Del Mar community than the Sandpiper. But for those of us who worked on the paper with, or following, him, today’s Sandpiper stands as a conspicuous tribute to one of Del Mar’s finest: Chuck Newton.


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