Updated on Nov. 26
WESTFIELD, NJ — The longtime chairman of the Westfield Planning Board has died.
Robert Newell died from cancer on Tuesday morning. He was 68. Town officials bowed their heads for a moment of silence in Newell’s honor at a council meeting that evening.
“Robert’s dedication to this community knew no bounds, and I am grateful for the opportunity I had to get to know him,” said Mayor Shelley Brindle. “I had the benefit of his warm embrace when I was a new member of the Planning Board, and he patiently taught me the ropes.”
Brindle said that Newell surprised her with his openness to new ideas, which appeared to energize him.
“He was the consummate volunteer, a gentleman’s gentleman, a man who lived his life with honor and grace,” Brindle said.
Newell served on the planning board for 30 years.
“I don’t know if it’s a record, but it’s really incredible,” said Town Administrator Jim Gildea.
The principal of Robert Newell Lighting Design, he was an experienced lighting designer with an in-depth understanding of lighting design principals, techniques and applications, his website says.
In 2018, the Westfield Historic Preservation Commission presented Newell and his wife, Pamela, with a Devlin Award for the carriage house which he constructed at his home to match the style of his 1881 Queen Ann style home on Clark Street. In 2019, their home became the first house in Westfield in 21 years to become historically designated.
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