Newell Kay Richardson, a loving, wise and faithful husband, father and grandfather passed from this existence on July 16, 2019 in Spanish Fork, Utah, where he had lived with his wife for two years.
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Newell Kay was born in his grandmother’s home in Thatcher Arizona, the seventh of what would be eight children. The family lived on a dry, dusty ranch that seldom produced enough for them to live on. While the economics were meager, the love, faith, and resilience of the family were great and produced singularly outstanding children.
There were at least three times, according the Newell Kay himself, that his life was miraculously spared. The first occurred when he was not even two years old and he fell from the seat of a farm implement called a disc. He was pinned to the ground by the sharp blade which was poised to travel over his body and head as the horses pulled forward. Instead, they stopped for no reason and Newell was left with an injury behind his right knee and a scar he carried throughout his life. The second time happened shortly after high school, when Newell Kay and his father were in Mexico. They were riding mules; Newell Kay was riding one and leading a second by a rope. He got off his mule on the wrong side which spooked both animals and they took off at a dead run. A rope wrapped around Newell Kay’s ankle and he was dragged. It looked like sure disaster but again – for some unknown reason - the two mules ran in opposite directions, the rope snapped and Newell Kay had a nasty rope burn but was thankful that he wasn’t dragged to his death. The third occurrence was after his return home from his mission. He was helping his older brother, Rene’, dig a well. Newell Kay was seventeen feet down a four foot diameter hole. Sixty pounds of dirt were being lifted out in a metal can one at a time with a heavy metal pulley and wood system to dig the hole deeper and deeper. Suddenly, the wood snapped and everything came crashing straight down. Newell Kay was sure that in each case, his life was spared only due to divine intervention.
The fire of testimony burned bright from his pioneer forebears, and his reverence and respect for those courageous progenitors lit a path for his life of valiant service, constant faith, and conscientious integrity of heart.
His mother taught him to read before entering school, and when his two older sisters went with him to enroll him; they entered him into second grade. This put the smallish Newell Kay at a social disadvantage. He went to school barefoot many times, without a lunch, and without much interpersonal confidence. But his favorite fourth grade teacher sensed his abilities and awarded him a new pocketknife for winning the class spelling bee. Newell Kay was so shy that he turned his back towards the class and hold the knife over his shoulder for the students to admire.
However, Newell had a sufficient amount of personal confidence that, as a fifth grader, he bought a baby pig with a hernia, convinced his older sister to purchase chloroform so he could perform his first surgery. The procedure was a success until the pig later over ate and died.
He became discouraged with school in the in 9th grade, being a year younger and a foot shorter than his peers, and dropped out of school. His mother, who was a school teacher, was much distressed but Newell Kay promised to return to school on time the following year. Years later, he was known to give encouragement to any student who was discouraged by telling them that he had gone on to school for another 14 years to become a medical doctor.
It was in his third year of high school the he decided to become a doctor. Newell Kay had injured his leg to the point that it was put in a cast to heal and when he saw the x-ray of his ankle and later heard a radio report of the University of Utah starting a medical school, he became inspired to finish high school, college, and become a physician.
He attended Gila Junior College before serving his mission to the Eastern States U.S. (New York, Pennsylvania and environs) from 1949-1951. He remembers wearing a heavy wool suit in the humid summer, carrying pamphlets in his hands that became damp with the sweat running down his arms, and his embarrassment at offering these pamphlets to strangers.
After his mission, he attended Brigham Young University where he soon met the lovely and talented coed Illa Mae Cook and fell deeply in love. After an engagement of 2 years, and graduation from the BYU in Zoology, they were married in the Idaho Falls Temple on July 28, 1953.
Their first son, Scott was born 9 months later and then it appeared that disaster struck the young family. Unexpectedly, Newell Kay was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent away from his wife and son. They were stationed in San Antonio, Texas, where their daughter, Annette was born. But the military services granted Newell Kay the benefits of the G.I.bill which enabled him to pay for much of his higher education.
A physician friend encouraged him to apply for medical school at Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, and without previously having been accepted, Newell Kay moved his little family there to receive his medical training. Wherever Newell Kay worked or served or learned as a student, he was recognized by his peers as having outstanding abilities.
But more than his professional abilities, Newell Kay’s abilities with people were legendary.
He graduated as the student body president of his medical school and served on the High Council with George Romney, a former governor of Michigan, and later was a member of the Stake Presidency. Three more children were added to their quiver – Mark and Joan and Joel.
He completed a residency in radiology and became a fully licensed physician at age 38 after 12 years of advanced education, 2 years as a missionary, and 2 years as a soldier. In the first two weeks of his practice, one of his patients was a 38 year old navy sailor who bragged that he had just retired from 20 years in the service. Newell Kay was a bit amazed at the contrast in life events!
Dallin, the last of the Richardson’s six children, was welcomed to the family in Tucson, Arizona. Newell Kay practiced in radiology in Tucson for 10 years, teaching classes at the University of Arizona medical school and serving as the president of the Pima County Medical association. He also served as a Bishop of a University Ward for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of the humorous moments was when he was encouraging the elders in the quorum to date young ladies who may not be the most attractive, because “Beauty is only skin deep.” One of the young elders exclaimed, “Yes, Bishop, but ‘ugly’ is CLEAR TO THE BONE!”
He and Illa Mae were interested in moving closer to her family in Idaho, and an offer to join a radiology group there opened the way to move to Idaho Falls. Within 2 months of arriving, Newell Kay was amazed that the Saints were fasting that “the rain would stop”--- an anomaly that a boy from the desert had difficulty grasping! Shortly after, he was called as the Bishop of their ward, and shortly after that was called as the first counselor in the Stake Presidency. He served on the Bonneville School district School Board and was instrumental in solving some difficult issues. He was later called by Elder Bruce R. McConkie to serve as the Stake President of the Ammon West Stake.
Newell Kay always enjoyed working on his 10-acre farm, even while working full-time as a physician. When his younger sons were home, he worked with them to plant the adjoining small acreage in wheat, promising to share the profit with them for their mission funds in return for their physical labor. There were many early mornings for father and sons to move pipe to irrigate the wheat. After the wheat was harvested and the sons paid, someone observed, “Newell, you lost money on that deal. You would have been better off just to have left that ground fallow.” Newell reportedly said, “I’m not raising wheat, I’m raising sons.” Newell engaged in diligent physical labor and creative problem-solving with tools and machines most of his life.
He moved his practice to Rexburg at Madison Memorial Hospital where he was the only radiologist and greatly loved by all the patients, employees and physicians and became the Chief of Staff there. He was called as a Regional Representative and served the stake presidents in the region as a source of wisdom and knowledge.
As a result of a call to serve a mission in 1997, Newell Kay retired from his beloved practice of medicine, and served as the mission physician in the Chilean mission in South American with his wife at his side. He was credited with saving the life of one missionary in a dramatic turn of events that required sound judgment, medical expertise, and most importantly the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
After serving faithfully, the couple returned home to Idaho Falls where they were called to serve as the President and Matron of the temple there after serving in a preceding presidency for a number of years.
He and Illa Mae moved to Spanish Fork, Utah, to be near family members, and they enjoyed their ward who embraced the Richardson’s with great love and appreciation. Newell Kay succumbed to cancer after a lingering condition of approximately 12 years. He passed easily and peacefully surrounded by loved ones, and surely was received on the other side of the veil by many he had “loved long since, and lost awhile. ”
A viewing will occur from 5 – 7 p.m. Friday, July 26th at the Spanish Fork 9th Ward located at 928 Del Monte Road, Spanish Fork, Utah. Funeral services will be held at noon Saturday, July 27th at the Stanfield Ward chapel, 1925 E. 49th South, Idaho Falls with a viewing starting at 10:30 a.m. prior to the services. Interment will be in the Goshen Cemetery in Goshen, Idaho. lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Newell Kay’s name to the LDS humanitarian fund. https://www.ldsphilanthropies.org/humanitarian-services. Condolences can be offered at www.legacyfunerals.com.