Don Newman holds the picture of the Great Buddha at Kamakura, Japan.
Photo by Oscar Roloff.
by Oscar Roloff
I've known Don for many a year. He's the type of fellow who doesn't care what scribes write about him as long as the names are spelled correctly.
I recall that years ago I wrote about a top notch wood-carver whose last name was Shunk. A writer from another newspaper saw my article and rushed out to do the same. All was well in his article except they spelled the name Skunk.
Boy! Was he angry. Shucks, I've been called a skunk more than once. Doesn't bother me one bit. I don't care, 'cause it may be true.
While interviewing Don at his Carnation home, we sat outside on a rickety wooden table set. He'd moved the bird feeder a few inches so we could sip on coffee and munch on rolls.
About 10 feet away was a small pasture where his sheep were looking at us and "baaing" away like mad. With my poor hearing, I needed to hear at least a few words to make my article understandable.
In a friendly way, I asked Don if he didn't have another pasture about a mile or so away. I get by with those I write about. They are my kind of people, and I expect they grudgingly put up with my shenanigans.
As we indulged in filling our stomachs, I told Don that I'd heard he'd quit his job and twice gone to Kobe, Japan, to work on building homes for the unfortunate ones who'd lost their homes due to the devastating earthquake.
"Last fall after the earthquake, I joined others who went there to show them how to build homes that would withstand earthquakes better than the ones they live in," Don said. "Many of their homes are three and four stories high and flimsy. They are made of bamboo and wattle, have no braces, and fall like dominoes."
While the Japanese watched and aided, Don's group built two six-unit apartments American-style. Each morning, a Shinto priest would come and conduct a ceremony consisting of placing salt and saki at each corner of the house that was being built. I'd observed that ceremony during my four years in Japan.
Don then said something that greatly pleased me. He said, "We named the apartments 'Ozaki Heights' after the famed Japanese man Yukio Ozaki that you knew and wrote about several times in the Woodinville Weekly."
I then asked Don, who has built a number of homes in the Carnation area for the unfortunate, "Why did you quit your job and twice go all the way to Japan to do this?"
"Because of you," he replied. "We've been reading your articles for years, and those you write about all have integrity and give of themselves in various ways."
Upon hearing his fine compliment, I finished my coffee and maple bar and rushed back to my home at Kingsgate to pick up a gift and return to give it to Don. It's a large photo that you'll see accompanying this article. It's the one I took of the Great Buddha at Kamakura, Japan. Not too far away is Zushi, where I'd often visit my old friend Yukio Ozaki.
I'd met him via his daughter Yukika who was working for Admiral Kenmore McManes at the great Yukosuka Naval base. I'd met her through the Admiral. In my file, I have a photo of her, too.
For years, Don worked with troubled boys and girls to get them on the right track of life. One such "home" is in Woodinville. It's his way of giving.
His wife is a county librarian at Carnation. They have three children. One, 19, just graduated from the University of Washington. They are all top-notch scholars. They'll "give" in life, too, Don said with great pride.