Debra Newman ’02 died Tuesday morning from head injuries she suffered in a car accident early last week in St. Louis, Missouri where she was attending Washington University Law School.
The funeral is today at Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester, NY.
While a student at Cornell, Newman studied in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and was active at the Women’s Resource Center, where she was on the advisory board, a member of Cornell Tradition, a panelist for Zap!, the president of the Chi Omega Sorority, on the Student Advisory Council and the Campus Relations Committee, as well as an active member of the PanHellenic Association and Cornell’s Hillel.
“Deb was the type of person who you didn’t realize was doing so many things. She was not the type who did things to get recognition. She was involved in as many things as she could because she wanted to make an impact on people’s lives here at Cornell,” said Dave Chipurnoi, grad, who knew Newman as an undergrad and when she was growing up in Yonkers, N.Y.
As the co-ordinator of student personnel, Newman trained and managed all the student workers at the Straight. “Deb was organized, dedicated and loving. If anyone could be in three places at one time, that was Deb,” said Linda Reynolds, a member of the dean of student’s staff who worked with Newman.
Roxanne Edsall, an administrative assistant in the Student Activities Office, was Newman’s boss when she was a freshman.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more generous and outgoing person. Jobs I gave her were always completed and then she asked for more,” she said.
Kelly Connison, director of the Women’s Resource Center, also worked closely with Newman.
“She was an amazing activist. She volunteered in the center all the time. She was super-enthusiastic about women’s issues, especially legal issues concerning the LGBT community,” Connison said. According to Lauren Bleich ’03, Newman was, “so excited about going to law school.”
“She wanted to work with the LGBT community on ACLU issues,” Connison added.
As the president of Chi Omega, Newman worked hard to pull the sorority together and increase recruitment. She was, according to Bleich, “the epitomy of Chi Omega.”
“The house is going through a tough time because she was always there for us and now we’re trying to be there for her and her family. Our hope as the house is to continue all of the good that she’s done,” Bleich said.
There is no doubt that the Cornell community will miss Newman as well. “I love her and I’m going to miss her. There are never any answers as to why these things happen. It was a gift and a blessing that she touched so many people’s lives and that’s something that people can hang on to and say, ‘Wow,'” Reynolds said.
Archived article by Freda Ready