Paul Newby
Paul Newby

Obituary of Paul Newby

Paul was born in Niagara Falls on May 19, 1953.  He had two older siblings: Bill and Peter.  His mother, Hester was an artist and his father was a structural Engineer. After they were married, Paul’s parents built their house on a small orchard. Paul and his brothers played in a three acre back yard filled with trees, birds, insects, rabbits and foxes. They knew every inch of the orchard. It was where they ran around, explored, observed nature and shot off rockets that they had made. 

In the summers, Hester would pile the kids into the car and drive up to Lake Joseph where the kids would roam free, swim and canoe. It was Hester and Paul’s favourite time of the year. 

Paul grew up and went to Brock University after grade twelve. He graduated in English and then left home to live in Ottawa. Paul secured a job with the Foreign Affairs Department of the Federal Government. He lived and worked in our capital for several years. To his horror, he began to look and feel like a bureaucrat and decided to make some changes. He took a correspondence course in grade thirteen science and then applied for the Electrical Engineering course at the University of Toronto. 

Paul was accepted at U of T and needed a place to live. He answered an advertisement for room mates in an unofficial co-op student house. He lived with five other students. As time would tell, he had friendship for many years with two of the students and married another, Sandra Ashby. 

Paul excelled in his first year of engineering, coming first in his class. In his second year, he moved to the electrical science program where he wrangled with math and physic problems and continued to be successful. 

Paul graduated from the U of T program and he and Sandra went on a “walk about”. They flew to London to visit Sandra’s sister and to explore the city. Next stop was India and then Nepal. For three weeks, they hiked the trail up to Manang, admired the beauty of the Himalayas, sat in natural hot springs, met interesting people and made the decision to get married. After exploring Malaysia, Sandra and Paul returned to Canada. 

Sandra and Paul bought their first house and were married in 1983. Their wedding took place on the grounds of a lovely resort near Huntsville. Facing the lake, they made their vows and then went swimming.

Paul started to work for a U of T professor who wanted to start up a small business using radio signals. He wrote a paper about what he learned and it was published in an Engineering journal. His article was read by Roger Wood who was the head of the research department for Ampex (the company that invented and developed the VCR). Roger asked Paul to move down to San Francisco and work for Ampex. At Ampex, Paul developed a number of innovative designs that were pattoned and brought revenue for the company. He was considered on of a handful of people in the world who could design the head of a VCR. 

In San Francisco, Paul and Sandra had a daughter, Kaila. She was a beautiful baby and brought much joy to many lives. The couple decided that they wanted to raise their child with their extended family and so moved back to Toronto. 

Paul was offered a job at York University’s Centre of Excellence Program. He spent many years working on high performance VCRs that would accurately receive radio signals and were used in international space programs. 

It was around this time that Paul’s brother Peter died. Peter’s death had a big impact on Paul. In addition, Sandra and Paul lost their third baby that was born prematurely.

Despite all their personal losses, Paul, Sandra and Kaila took advantage of living in Canada. They went camping, hiking, white-water rafting and skiing. They enjoyed music, theatre, movies, parties with friends and neighbours. They travelled to America, England, Cuba and Costa Rica. They went sea kayaking in Haida Gwaii. 

They bought a cottage and had many wonderful holidays swimming in the river, exploring the Haliburton area and attending the local art school. 

In his fifties, Paul decided to buy a house in Haliburton and to renovate it using environmentally friendly materials. His artistic side kicked in and he designed a beautiful space that was inspired by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Paul wanted people to be see the outside natural beauty from every window. He called it Maple Arbour. 

Paul became a political activist for the environment. He worked with local and national groups to create a neighbourhood awareness of environmental issues, and spent much of his time writing letters and advocating for causes that he believed were making an positive impact on our environment. 

In San Francisco, Paul took an interest in Buddhism and was particularly taken with a book called “Zen Mind/Beginners Mind” written by Shunryu Susuki. It was an interest that grew over the years. 

In his last few years, Paul lived in a Buddhist temple where he practised meditation on a daily basis and continued his work with environmental causes. In fact, he sent out a text message to the Dogwood Initiative about his concerns over the pipeline moments before the fall that ended his life.  This BC-based group was his most respected environmental organization, and it is for that reason that we have chosen to ask people to donate to them in his memory.

He lived a wonderful life and is being greatly missed by his friends and family members.

There will be a Memorial Service on July 15th at 2 pm at the Zen Buddhist Temple at 86 Vaughan Rd.  Donations in his memory to the Dogwood Initiative would be appreciated.