Clifford Wayne Newell
Published: Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 4:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 4:07 p.m.
Clifford Wayne Newell, a Healdsburg High School graduate who in recent years traveled the nation as a highly skilled electrician, died Feb. 16 in Windsor of complications related to liver failure. He was 63.
Born in Alameda, Newell moved to Healdsburg as a young boy. He was the eldest child of Grady Newell, who worked at the former Idaco Lumber yard, and Marie Newell, a homemaker.
Newell graduated from Healdsburg High in 1967 and married Donna Badger, the daughter of then-Mayor Doug Badger. The couple had three children together and later divorced.
Newell learned his trade working for his father-in-law's electrical contracting business. But later he sought new challenges, and was hired by a company that sent him throughout the country working on large industrial cooling towers.
He had a long career at Midwest Towers, the Oklahoma company with an office in Windsor. He was part of a crew of highly skilled workers who built and repaired the towers that are a key element of electric power generation plants.
One week he was freezing his tail off on a job site in Wyoming, the next he was sweating in Hawaii, always enjoying the highly technical challenges of his work, the camaraderie of his workmates and the constant changes of scenery.
“It became a big adventure for him,” said his cousin and close friend Dan Camacho. “I think he really enjoyed seeing different places.”
The job was difficult and often involved working at great heights, but he enjoyed it, Camacho said. “It was very precarious work. You almost needed the skill set of an iron worker.”
One of Newell's greatest professional satisfactions was helping to repair facilities around New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Camacho said.
He also was an honest and trustworthy friend who would drop everything when those he loved needed him.
Camacho recalled that when his wife passed away in 2008, Newell was “sick as a dog” in Arizona but drove for 15 hours to console him in Windsor. “That's the kind of guy he was.”
A barbecue to honor Newell's life will be held on his birthday, April 6, at the Warm Springs Dam Picnic area.
— Kevin McCallum
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