Sidney Newman, 87, veterans activist

Posted: July 06, 2012

Sidney Newman, 87, of Northeast Philadelphia, a longtime volunteer aiding Jewish veterans and Tourette syndrome patients, died Tuesday, July 3, of liver failure at his home.

Mr. Newman, who ran a TV repair business, was a lifetime member and two-time commander of Jewish War Veterans Post 706. He was raising money and organizing events for wounded veterans up until his death.

"Hospital visits were his favorite," said Shirley Newman, his wife of 66 years. "Bringing entertainment, soft pretzels, apples on a stick. He just would say, 'You feel so good when you leave there.' "

In 1994, Mr. Newman helped found Comfort House, offering wounded veterans a place to stay while they underwent treatment at the VA Medical Center in West Philadelphia. The project was "very close to his heart," his wife said. "He built it, he named it, and it's still going," though she said it now operates as a shelter for homeless veterans.

Mr. Newman graduated from Olney High School in 1942 and joined the Army in 1943. He served for three years during World War II, working as a radio operator on a ship in the Aleutian Islands.

He met Shirley Finestein a few months before deploying, and they married a month after he returned.

"I waited; I didn't date. In those days, things were different," his wife said, adding that her husband was "a very good dancer." Their son, Ronnie, worked with his father in the TV repair business until the 1980s. The business operated out of the family home on Nestor Road in Northeast Philadelphia.

When two family members became affected by Tourette syndrome, Mr. Newman founded a support group for Pennsylvania families. He began raising money for the National Tourette Syndrome Association, and in his first year won a national fund-raising award. The state organization later named it the Sid Newman Fundraising Award.

One of the secrets to his fund-raising success was organizing outings - bus trips, cruises, concerts. "Even just a day trip to Atlantic City, it all went to charity," Shirley Newman said.

For the last 26 years, the Newmans kept a travel trailer camped out in Amish country. "It was like our summer home, a weekend getaway," his wife said. But even when her husband was on vacation, "he was always the one doing things, making things happen. They called him the mayor of the campground."

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Newman is survived by a daughter, Judy; a sister; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

A Jewish War Veterans memorial will be held Friday morning, followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m. at Joseph Levine & Sons, 4737 Street Rd., Trevose.

Donations may be made to the Pennsylvania Tourette Syndrome Alliance, Box 148, McSherrystown, Pa. 17344, or online at

Contact Jessica Parks at 215-854-2771 or

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