Dr. William Newkirk, MD
Growing up in an orphanage, Maurice Newkirk always seemed to have a book in his hands. Later, he became a teacher, returned to the orphanage, met and married another teacher, Ruth Schlatter. In 1950, Maurice and Ruth bought an old house with a large vacant lot near the Ashland College campus. The house soon filled with books. The lot with its moveable baseball backstop, well-worn base paths, and asphalt basketball court, served as a training ground for a generation of Ashland athletes, all playing under Mr. Newkirk’s firm rule that every kid, no matter how old or talented, was welcome and must be allowed to play in whatever game was taking place. Given this environment, it is not surprising that Maurice and Ruth Newkirk’s two children became athletic scholars.
Thomas, the older son, a swimming and track athlete at Ashland Senior High School and later captain of the track team at Oberlin College, became a nationally recognize expert on literacy in boys and an award winning author.
William, the younger son, played for John Carlisle’s Faultless little league team for four years. During that time, Coach Carlisle instilled in him a disciplined approach to sports and life, which would be a major factor in his life’s success. The Ashland Times-Gazette pictured William as one of the area’s top athletes in 1965 for pitching Ashland to a second place in the Pony League United States Regionals, throwing a 2-hit, 16 strike-out victory over the New York champions, Rochester.
In the final season at Ashland Senior High School, William was named All-Cardinal Conference in three sports, football, basketball, and baseball. In football that season, he caught 37 passes for 523 yards, breaking Ashland’s game, season, and career pass receiving records. In basketball, he scored 440 points and grabbed 305 rebounds. His single game highs were 33 points and 30 rebounds, one short of the school record. The Ashland team set the school’s modern era defense record by holding Mansfield Madison to 9 points in a State Tournament game. Ashland was the Cardinal Conference Co-Champions and made it to the regionals in the state tournament. William was named the Cardinal Conference’s MVP and third team All-Ohio. Ashland’s beloved coach Sam Marchio was named Cardinal Conference Coach of the Year.
William excelled academically and finished his Ashland schooling one year ahead of schedule. Harvard recruited him. At Harvard, he was named a John Harvard Scholar for his academic record and lettered as a Division I basketball player in his sophomore season. That year Coach Marchio suffering from cancer that would take his life at age 43. He visited William, while Sam was in Boston. Following that visit, William decided to cut his collegiate sports career short and concentrate on his dream of becoming a doctor.
Dr. Newkirk has devoted his professional life to the field of occupational and environmental medicine, treating patients, writing textbooks, designing computer systems and teaching. For his groundbreaking work in applying computers to medicine, Dr. Newkirk was the first physician in the United States to receive the Career Achievement Award from the National Association of Occupational Health Providers. In 2004, he was honored by being the first group of Ashland High School graduates to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
He has two sons, Brook and Thatcher. He is married to Cheryl Tshanz, a college professor, concert pianist, and avid sports fan. She first saw William during his bitterest high school loss, to Lima Senior High School, in the regionals of the 1968 State Basketball tournament. Cheryl was cheering for Lima, her school. As you might imagine, this is still a source of discussion.
Nominator: John Frass