Col. Merrill “Bud” Stewart Newbill, 92, loving husband, son, father, grandfather, and great grandfather, died peacefully at home on May 19th, surrounded by his family.
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Growing up in Washington State, the eleventh of thirteen children; Bud had an adventurous childhood filled with hunting, riding and fishing. He shared many stories of milking his cows early in the morning, walking to school and then working for other farmers to buy his first bicycle. He liked to say he earned a man’s pay at age 12 baling hay. Bud was a natural athlete and played on and helped coach his school teams. His family loved telling stories of hearing the radio broadcast of Bud winning Washington state's Golden Gloves championship.
Bud graduated from Eastern Washington State College and was always an avid WSU fan. After graduation, he joined the Marine Corps and attended flight school at Pensacola Naval Air Station, where he met Mary Newton of Pensacola. Mary pinned his pilot wings on him in 1952, and they were married later that year. Bud retired from the USMC in 1984, taking Mary Lee home to Pensacola. He always said the last move was Mary’s.
Traveling the world as a Marine, Bud spent time in the Far East, South America, and Southeast Asia. He took great joy in seeing new places and meeting people from other cultures. When he returned, it was always a celebration filled with colorful travel stories and treasures from foreign markets. After retirement, Bud continued traveling with Mary and friends, to Switzerland and Austria to ski, and to Ireland, Scotland, and England to explore family ties. He continued skiing into his eighties, taking his RV to Steamboat Springs and visiting friends and relatives along the way.
An outgoing man who never met a stranger, Bud will be best remembered for always having a twinkle in his eye and a kind word. He took care of people, whether in his squadron, his family or community. He would tell stories of helping his mechanics and pilots perform at their best, sometimes by putting them on the duty roster and sometimes by taking them off. As C.O. of VMA 223, he was proud that in all their wartime missions, he never lost a man or a plane. Oorah!
Bud was grateful for the people and experiences that came his way; and would tell you what a lucky man he was to have been blessed with such a large and wonderful family, to have so many adventures, to see so much, and to live so long. He loved his beautiful wife Mary, his five children, and his legions of nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Preceded in death by his son Lee, a policeman killed in the line of duty, Bud is survived by Mary, his wife of 67 years; his children, Dixie Reyes, Judy Burns (Rich), Catherine Newbill, and Edward Newbill; eleven grandchildren; and fourteen great grandchildren.
We celebrate you, Dad. Your smile, strength, and the countless memories you shared will stay with us forever. You may be gone from our lives, but we will always carry you in our hearts and hear you in the back of our minds. We love you.
Because of COVID, a private service will be held at St. Francis in Gulf Breeze. In lieu of flowers, his family kindly requests that memorial contributions be made to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida.