Laura Martha Lewis Newton, 95, passed away quietly in her sleep on the morning of March 25, 2021, in her room at Courtyard at Jamestown in Provo, UT.
Martha was born to Joseph P. and Mary Theodosia Mecham Lewis on August 7, 1925 in her parents’ historic brick home on the corner of 7th Street & C Avenue in Douglas, Arizona. Douglas is located on the border with Mexico, and occasional visits to the lively neighboring Mexican town Agua Prieta meant growing up with an appreciation for Mexican products, food, and culture. Growing up during the years of the Great Depression and World War II also meant that Martha and her siblings were familiar with the chores and hard work needed to help their parents with their new & used store, and their large yard with chickens, cows, and vegetable gardens. It took effort to water and maintain the grass, roses, grape vines on the trellis, and many fruit trees, including fig trees and a row of pomegranate trees. While in high school, Martha worked at Western Union to earn spending money, save for college, and buy some of her own clothes and school supplies. Martha and her siblings also helped their father take care of the Douglas Ward meetinghouse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, partly because he was the bishop for many years.
Martha was one of 12 children. Her older siblings are Joseph P. Jr. (Janet), Walter Roderic (Lois), Albert Lucien (Beryl), Robert Paul (Idelle), Annie Theodosia (Elno), and James Hardy (Adele) Lewis. Her younger siblings are Charles Ivan (Eileen), Ida Ethel (Elvin), John Anthony, Margaret Alicia (Ray), and Ruth Elizabeth Lewis.
Martha is survived by her sister Margaret, and by her five children: Sterling Lewis (Dianne), Martha Louise, Marcia Velene (George), Joseph Warren (Tawnia), and Walter Lamar (Eileen) Newton. Also survived by 16 grandchildren and over 30 great-grandchildren. Preceded in death by her parents, husband, 10 siblings, and one great-grandchild.
After graduating from Douglas High School, Martha attended Bakersfield Community College in California, and then transferred to UCLA. When she was 21, she transferred to Brigham Young University and studied art. In December 1945 she met Sterling Leo Newton at a series of BYU dances, and they began dating. Sterling had recently completed his Army service as a crane operator and longshoreman in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea during World War II. Born in 1922, Sterling had been raised on a farm in Mona, Utah. When asked, Martha always enjoyed relating how she quickly realized that Sterling was the love of her life, and how she immediately grew fond of his family and relatives in Mona. They were married in the Mesa Temple in Arizona on September 22, 1947.
Their first child was born while they attended BYU. Then they moved to Logan where Sterling finished his studies to become a teacher. When he graduated, they moved to Price where he began to teach shop class. He also taught school in nearby Dragerton.
In 1953 Martha’s parents wanted to retire and move to California, so she and Sterling decided to move to Douglas and buy the old family house and store. Martha took over the management of the store, while Sterling taught school full time in nearby Elfrida. They enjoyed living in Douglas for the next 37 years.
In the early 1970s, Martha got a job as the Douglas district manager for Tucson Newspapers, Inc.; she managed all the news carriers, newspaper machines, and delivery to stores in the greater Douglas area (including Agua Prieta). Over 20 years, she earned many company awards for customer service, and many prizes from company contests for the number of new newspaper subscribers that she and her carriers signed up. Her favorite prizes were trips to Old Tucson, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Legend City (an amusement park with an Old West theme that operated in Phoenix from 1963 to 1983), the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and the San Diego Zoo. These trips provided many pleasant experiences and memories for the family.
In 1991 Martha and Sterling retired and moved to Provo to be closer to relatives. A few years later they chose to serve the Lord on a mission. They served full-time at the main Family History Library, and at the Granite Mountain Records Vault up in Little Cottonwood Canyon. They often reminisced on how they loved the calling and the people. Then they enjoyed life in Provo, in their ward, stake, and activities at the Eldred Senior Center. Sterling, her sweetheart for 71 years, passed away on May 10, 2016. Now Martha is surely happy to have rejoined Sterling, and many other loved ones, too.
All friends and relatives are welcome to a viewing that will be held Wednesday, March 31, 2021 from 6 pm to 8 pm, at Anderson Funeral Home, 94 W 300 N, Nephi, UT 84648. Please wear masks and use social distancing.
All are invited to watch the graveside funeral on Zoom this Thursday, April 1 at 10:45 am. To watch click on this link:
Why watch on Zoom? Due to health problems and the resulting risks due to covid-19, only those that are speaking or singing during the funeral are invited to be physically present. Everyone else is invited to stay home and watch via Zoom.
To view a video recording of the services, please go to:
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