Roland Joseph Newton, 80

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Roland Joseph Newton, 80, devoted husband, father, friend, community leader, banker, and Whitefish treasure, passed away at home in Whitefish on Nov. 5, 2019, with family at his side.

Roland was born on Sept. 28, 1939, in Mead, Colorado, into a remarkable and close-knit Catholic family. Roland was the first of three triplet brothers and the 15th of 20 children.

Roland married his high school sweetheart, Joan Becker, in 1962. He attended Colorado State University and the Colorado School of Banking. In 1970 Roland accepted a position at First National Bank in Whitefish and moved Jo and their four young children to Whitefish. Whitefish became home to the Newton family for the next 50 years. In 1978, at the age of 38, Roland became president of First National Bank. He later served as president of First Interstate Bank of Whitefish, retiring in 2004. Roland treasured his relationships with those whom he worked and served.

Roland immersed himself in the Whitefish community and gave generously of his time, ultimately receiving the “Great Whitefish Award” recognizing his lifetime contributions to the community. He took pleasure in serving on the Whitefish City Council, the Whitefish Parks board, the North Valley Hospital board, the Whitefish Lake Gold Course board, and the Whitefish Community Foundation board. He was a co-founder of the Gary Norby Golf Foundation and served on the Bulldog Open Committee. Roland also served as president of the Whitefish High School Booster Club, several terms as president of the Whitefish Lake Golf Course board of directors and was a member of the Rotary, Jaycees, in the Winter Carnival Organizing Committee, the Stumptown Historical Society, and St. Charles parish. He helped found the Whitefish Little Dribblers grade school basketball program, providing over 22 years of leadership, fundraising, coaching, and refereeing. He took pride in being inducted into the Whitefish High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Roland loved all things Montana and all things Whitefish. He was a lifelong Dodgers fan, rooted for the Denver Broncos, the Griz, the Cats, the Ducks, the Huskies and the Zags. Sports took center stage in the Newton family, and they crisscrossed the state as the kids participated in basketball, football, volleyball, track and golf. An athlete himself, Roland was a starter, along with three of his brothers, on a state championship basketball team and inductee in the Colorado High School Hall of Fame. He once shot 29 on nine holes at the Whitefish Lake Golf Course.

Roland is survived by his wife Jo, daughters Stacie (Joe) Strong, Chris Newton, Carrie (Jim) Archibald, and son Greg (Leslie) Newton. He is also survived by his loving grandchildren, Kiley (Ben), Seth, Keagan (Kristin), Jordan (Claire), Sydney, Megan and Charlie; great-grandchildren, Camille and Daniel; and numerous generations of nieces and nephews. Surviving siblings include sisters Helen Teter and Patricia French and brothers Richard, Ronald and Marc.

Roland was preceded in death by parents Laura Celia Dreier and James Elmer Newton, and brothers Orbin, Raymond, Jack, Thomas, Gerald, David and Forrest. He was also preceded in death by sisters Eunice Thornton, Roberta Curran, Rosemary Newton, Maureen Newton and Kathleen Hetterle.

In December 1999, Roland received a life-saving kidney transplant allowing him to share in the lives of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In honor of Roland, please consider registering as an organ donor.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations in Roland’s name to the James Elmer and Laura Dreier Newton Scholarship Fund, The UNC Foundation, 1620 Reservoir Road, Greeley, CO 80631, or to the Whitefish Community Foundation.

Memorial services will take place at 11 a.m. on Nov. 12 at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Whitefish, with a celebration to follow at the Whitefish Lake Gold Club Restaurant from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Austin Funeral Home of Whitefish is caring for the Newton family.

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