Breaking: The Legendary Mr. Joe Newton Of York Passes Away

(Ilona Koziel photo)

Former Elmhurst York (IL) High School cross country and track and field coach Joe Newton passed away Saturday morning at his home in Arizona. He was 88 years old.

Newton taught and coached at York from 1956 until his retirement last November. He became the school's cross country coach in the fall of 1960. Two years later, York won its first state title.

While he was coach, the "Long Green Line" won 28 state cross country titles. He also coached York to a state title in track in 2000, his final season coaching that team. His 2004 cross-country team was the inaugural winner of the Nike Team Nationals.

"I had the honor of spending some quality time with Mr. Newton in the early NXN/NTN years," Bill Aris, coach of the 11-time NXN champion Fayetteville-Manlius girls cross-country team, told DyeStat. "It was a thrill for me and it was a real good camaraderie and time to communicate with him. His York boys teams were powerful and my Stotans and his guys would lock horns and there was nothing but mutual respect.

"I thought the world of the guy. Probably our coaching styles were a little bit different, but in some ways old-school similar. He produced great ones. He produced people of great character and his kids were a reflection of him. I have nothing but respect for him and his legacy."

In 1988, Newton became the first high school coach named to a U.S. Olympic Team coaching position, guiding the marathon squad at the Seoul Games.

Newton meant so much to so many in the world of running and life. On a day filled with tremendous happiness as many cross country athletes around the country, particularly the contingent of boys and girls from Illinois, competed at Foot Locker Nationals, it's also a shared moment of sadness.

"Today is a sad day for not only myself and the Newton family but also the Elmhurst running community, with the past, and present men of the YORK Cross Country program," Newton's son, Thomas, said in a statement.

Newton's funeral will be private. His family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Joe Newton Scholarship Award of Excellence. Donations can be made online by going to the Dupage Foundation Website at and do a search for the Joe Newton Scholarship Award of Excellence.