Cover photo for Linda H. Newman's Obituary
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1941 Linda 2023

Linda H. Newman

May 24, 1941 — December 28, 2023

Madison

MADISON—Linda H. Newman, age 82, peacefully died on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023, at University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, following a stroke. She was born in New York City on May 24, 1941, the elder of two children of Edith Howard (Neilson) Newman and Sol Newman. Linda’s lifelong devotion to social justice was inspired at an early age by her parents’ passion for political activism, civil rights, and union organizing.  

 

Linda grew up in New Haven and Hamden, Connecticut. After graduating from Hamden High School, Linda attended Brown University, majoring in English. She was a proud member of Pembroke College, then the women’s college within the university. After graduating from Brown in 1962, she moved to Madison to pursue a graduate degree in the renowned UW Department of History. While there, she met and married Kenneth R. Bowling, a fellow graduate student in the department. Their son, Andrew L. Bowling, was born in 1967.

 

After receiving a master’s degree in 1965, Linda continued her studies and also began a long career as an academic advisor in the history department. She later joined the School of Education Academic Services office, serving as assistant dean and advisor. In 2000, Linda received the school’s Ann Wallace Academic Staff Distinguished Achievement Award. Linda’s warmth, understanding, and deep interest in young people made a significant and lasting impression on hundreds of students—many of whom remained her friends for years. It was a common occurrence to have someone rush up to Linda and exclaim, “You were my advisor!” Both parties were always delighted to have a chance to reconnect.  

 

Linda was an active participant in the university’s tradition of shared governance, serving on many committees related to academic staff issues, including a term as the chair of the campus Academic Staff Executive Committee (ASEC).

 

In the Newman family tradition, Linda drove cab as a side gig, and participated in the infamous 1979 Checker Cab strike that led to the founding of Union Cab of Madison Cooperative, a worker-owned taxi company.

 

After her retirement in 2007, Linda worked part time with the campus Ombuds Office, providing UW-Madison employees with confidential guidance regarding workplace issues.   Retirement also afforded her the opportunity to pursue other interests—working toward a graduate degree in religious studies at Edgewood College, serving on the steering committees of both Grace Episcopal and Lake Edge Lutheran churches, and inhabiting her favorite booth at Barriques coffee shop. She also was deeply committed to Just Dane (formerly Madison Urban Ministry, or MUM), which she served as both board member and chair.

 

A particular joy to Linda was participating in MUM’s mentorship program, in which she was matched with a girl in need of an extra grownup in her life. She and her mentee formed a close bond and their friendship extended for many years, becoming one of the most significant relationships of Linda’s later life. Linda was also an animal lover, Packer fan, and an inveterate and passionate reader, and it was these pastimes with which she happily filled her final years.

 

In 2015, Troy Reeves of the UW-Madison Archives recorded a series of interviews with Linda for the Oral History Program, https://minds.wisconsin.edu/handle/1793/72539. In this overview Linda discusses her rather atypical upbringing, her political activism, experiences within the Department of History as a student and advisor, and other aspects of city and university life since she arrived in Madison in the early ’60s.  A delightful 2018 interview between Linda and John Tortorice can also be found in the oral history collection at https://ohms.library.wisc.edu/viewer.php?cachefile=Newman.L.1816.xml.

 

Linda is survived by longtime partner Barbara Gerloff, Madison; son Andrew L. (Lana) Bowling, Torrance, Calif.; grandchildren Tim Bowling, Sun Prairie, Wis., and Beth Bowling, Minneapolis; great-grandson Desmond Johnson, Sun Prairie, Wis.; brother Steve Newman, Chapel Hill, N.C.; and nieces Emily Newman (Michael Venutolo-Mantovani), Chapel Hill, N.C., and Dara (Mark) Histed, Washington, D.C. She is also survived by Barbara’s devoted family: Robert Gerloff (Lynette Lamb) and Julia Gerloff, Minneapolis, and Grace Gerloff, Chicago.

 

Linda just naturally saw the best in people, and she communicated that loving, optimistic vision in a way that encouraged all of us to become a better version of ourselves. Her singular, shining life will be celebrated at a memorial service on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 2:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church (1609 University Ave., Madison), with a reception to follow. The service will be livestreamed, with a link available that afternoon at www.firstcongmadison.org.

 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Just Dane, Angel’s Wish Pet Adoption and Resource Center, or the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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