MADISON- Jean L. Newcomer (nee Barnes), Madison, died on May 23, 2020 at Agrace Hospice in Madison, WI. She was 99 years old.
Jean was born January 28, 1921 in Wilkes-Barre, PA to Olin and May (Petersen) Barnes. She graduated from Maryville College in Maryville, TN, where she earned a BA degree in psychology. Later she did post graduate study in library science at Northern Illinois University. Upon graduation from Maryville, she moved to Illinois to become social editor of the Belvidere Daily Republican. There she met and later married Edward Newcomer.
In 1950 she applied for a staff position at Ida Public Library. She served two years as reference librarian and 38 years as the library director. At her retirement she was surprised by an editorial in the Belvidere Daily Republican entitled “Give Your Regards to Jean”.
In addition to her love of books she was interested in music, gardening and painting. She was co-author of two books, For the Love of Ida, a history of library services in her community and Speechless: Living with Spasmodic Dysphonia, about the vocal cord disorder she developed at the age of 15.
In the latter part of her life she began painting oil landscapes and exhibited annually at area art shows. She sold most of her paintings and was pleased one year when she was runner-up for the “Best of Show” award. She has made over 600 decorative posters, using small colored squares, and posted them regularly on her apartment doors at Middleton Glen and Oakwood Assisted Living.
Jean is survived by a son and daughter: Stephen Newcomer (Diane) of Burnsville, MN and Gale Barber of Middleton and two granddaughters, Amelia Barber (Matt Blango) of Jena, Germany and Maggie Barber-Hasanovic (Nedim Hasanovic) of Los Angeles, CA.
She was preceded in death by her husband, sister Hazel Barnes, and brother Paul Barnes.
Private graveside services will be held at a later date at Belvidere Cemetery in Belvidere, IL. Memorials may be made in Jean’s name to the Ida Public Library, 320, N. State Street, Belvidere, IL.