MY WASHINGTON — Summer 2005

Eric P. and Evelyn E. Newman

A Creative Partnership

Founders of the University's Money Museum, Eric and Evelyn Newman have parlayed a love of coins and a genius for marketing into solid benefits for many area causes and organizations.


Eric and Evelyn Newman have a remarkable partnership, and it all began with a necklace of coins.

Eric Newman, J.D. '35, was already a young lawyer and a noted numismatist when he was introduced to 18-year-old Evelyn Edison. Her necklace of coins sparked a conversation, and soon after, they married in 1939.

Each has achieved distinction in widely divergent fields of expertise. Eric is one of America's leading numismatic scholars. Evelyn runs a successful marketing company and is the creator of many of St. Louis' most successful fundraising endeavors. Eric says: "We are a team. We each contribute what we do best: Evelyn is the creative one, and I provide the technical side." Together, they have made an extraordinary impact on the St. Louis community and elsewhere.

Their son, Andy, a trustee of Washington University since 1987, remembers: "Every night at the dinner table, there was always animated discussion of the newest charitable project they were working on. It was fascinating and inspiring to watch their creative partnership in action. And it still is."

For nearly four decades, the Newmans and their family have extended extraordinary generosity to a wide range of schools and programs at Washington University. Their interests have included the medical, law, and business schools, and the Olin Library. Then, in 2004, Eric and Evelyn Newman made a gift to establish the Newman Money Museum, which will become part of the new Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts.

Scholar and collector
Eric Newman's lifelong fascination with numismatics—the history of coins and currency—began at age 7, when his grandfather gave him a United States 1859 one-cent piece. Collecting coins stimulated his intellectual curiosity, and today, he has built one of the finest private collections of U.S. and Colonial American coins and paper money. He has published more than 100 books and articles on the subject—many of them standards in the field—and his many honors include the highest awards presented by the American Numismatic Society (ANS) and the American Numismatic Association (ANA). His many interests are inspired by a passion for travel: Together he and Evelyn have visited more than 200 countries around the world.

"Education has always been of paramount importance in my family," Eric says. "When my great-grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Germany, he could not speak English, but he managed to send his son—my grandfather—to the St. Louis College of Pharmacy in 1874. My father was a surgeon and my mother was a pianist, and they encouraged my interests. Numismatics is fascinating because it spans disciplines from art to metallurgy, economics, politics, and history.

Eric graduated from John Burroughs School in 1928, where he was "astounded to discover how much there was to know and excited to learn how to tackle it." His enthusiasm continued at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1932. "It was the depths of the Depression," he recalls, "and there were no jobs. I was offered a part-time position in a law firm in St. Louis—and my family lived a block away from Washington University—so I decided to attend the School of Law." He graduated in 1935 and joined the firm where he had been employed as a student. Following World War II, he began his career at Edison Brothers Stores, Inc., where he was an officer and served on the board until his retirement. In 1988, he became president of the Harry Edison Foundation, serving until January 2005.

As a volunteer at Washington University, Eric was one of the founding members of the Libraries' National Council and served on it for more than a decade. Shirley K. Baker, vice chancellor for information technology and dean of University Libraries, says: "Eric and Evelyn Newman have been friends of the University Libraries for many years. Eric is deeply erudite and understands research and scholarship. He is a book lover and a great collector of books, as well as coins and currency."

An "idea person"
As a young wife and mother of two, Evelyn Newman launched her career in marketing at a time when careers for women were not common. She credits Eric for his unqualified support. "I am an idea person," she says. "I love spotting trends, and I have always been interested in retail because of my family, which founded Edison Brothers Stores." She began with books. "I persuaded friends to donate books and collected them in my basement. We organized a sale to benefit the Nursery Foundation, which provided the first interracial day care in St. Louis. That idea became the Greater St. Louis Book Fair."

Evelyn approaches every project with flair, imagination, and extraordinary energy. The list of successful fundraising projects she has created includes the Camelot Auction for the Arts and Education Council and gift shops for the Missouri Historical Society, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and Barnes Hospital. In 1960, she launched the ScholarShop to benefit the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, followed in the 1970s by Gypsy Caravan for the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.

"If the idea is good, it will become self-sustaining," she says. "People will embrace it because they are delighted by it."

Evelyn's first paying job was creating the Bird in Hand gift shop at Famous-Barr, which took her family by surprise. "It was a breakthrough!" she says. "They had never considered that women might want to work. When they saw I could get paid to come up with ideas for May Department Stores, they decided that maybe I could do it for them."

At Edison Brothers, she worked first as a buyer, then moved on to create store concepts. In 1978, she launched her own marketing company, which became the Evelyn E. Newman Group in 1982. Many of her clients are not-for-profit organizations and cultural institutions. "We help clients build upon their basic mission," Evelyn says, "and we work with them to develop their projects."

During the 1980s, Evelyn was hired by the Rouse Company to assist with retail development at Union Station. She was the first executive director of Forest Park Forever, and in the 1990s she created, built, and directed the Sophia Sachs Butterfly House in Faust Park. Recently she developed the Little Shop Around the Corner for the Missouri Botanical Garden.

"Every night at the dinner table, there was always animated discussion of the newest charitable project they were working on. It was fascinating and inspiring to watch their creative partnership in action," says son Andy Newman.

Lifetimes of service
Eric and Evelyn are Life Benefactors of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society at Washington University. At the School of Medicine, they and their family helped to underwrite the Eric P. Newman Education Center and endow two professorships, in addition to supporting many other programs. "Eric and Evelyn Newman are wonderful friends and supporters of Washington University School of Medicine and the Medical Center," says William A. Peck, the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Medicine and the former dean and executive vice chancellor for medical affairs. "The Eric P. Newman Education Center, one of many examples of their great impact, has assumed a pivotal role in the life of the School and our affiliated hospitals."

In their long-lasting partnership of 65 years, Eric and Evelyn Newman have devoted their enthusiasm and generosity to their family, their community, and institutions that benefit others. Andy Newman says, "I think my parents are attracted to Washington University for the same reason other people are—because it has so many centers of enduring excellence."

—Susan Wooleyhan Caine