Richard Newman, MD
Local Surgeon, Viet Nam Vet, Veteran Marathoner
By Ron Aaron Eisenberg
For Richard Newman, MD, marrying a woman who was a nurse proved to be a lifesaver.
He was born at San Antonio’s Santa Rosa Hospital in 1947 and graduated from Highlands High School in 1965. He then enrolled at Texas A&M University, College Station. An Air Force ROTC scholarship helped pay tuition and more.
Newman left A&M after three years to attend medical school at The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio (now UT Health San Antonio) in 1968. An Air Force scholarship paid for his medical degree. He had been sworn in as a Lt. in the Air Force in 1968. Upon graduation from medical school in 1972, he was promoted to Captain.
Newman thought he wanted to be a neurosurgeon, but after a year-long neurosurgery training program, he realized, “That specialty wasn’t for me.” His focus changed to ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat), but his ENT residency was put on hold while he was stationed in S.E. Asia – Korat, Thailand, from 1974-1975. By then, he’d been promoted to Major.
He landed in S.E. Asia after completing flight surgery school. “I ended up being the ranking physician, and they made me the Hospital Commander, even though I’d never really been in the Air Force. I was 26 years old or so.” He was assigned to the F4 and C130 squadrons. He recalls, “The Thai people were wonderful.
“When Cambodia fell, I was involved in the evacuation. I was also involved in the evacuation from Saigon in 1975 as an F4 flight surgeon. We provided air cover for U.S. military and civilians as they boarded helicopters to leave Viet Nam. It was a perilous time.”
Newman returned to the U.S. and held faculty positions at Wilford Hall and Main Methodist. By then, he was a full Colonel and loved working at those hospitals. But the Air Force wanted to move him to another location in 1984. He didn’t want to move, so he resigned his commission.
He met his wife, Julie Peterson, Ph.D., in 2008, at Methodist Hospital, where she was a traveling nurse. “We were married on December 13, 2014, at La Fonda on Main.”
Newman ran his first marathon in 1978 in San Antonio. His dad had died in 1977 of heart failure. He embraced running as a way to protect his heart. But there are no guarantees. In 2015 while jogging with Julie, he collapsed when his heart stopped working. They were running on a trail north of Brackenridge High School in San Antonio. Julie performed 13 minutes of CPR until EMS arrived on the scene. He survived and began running again a year later.
Recently he completed his 25th New York City Marathon. It was also his 75th marathon. Since 2010, Newman has written “Ron” on his racing bib to honor his brother, also an ENT, who died in 2010. “I love to hear people along the route call out his name as I go by. It is a special tribute to him and his memory.” And he will undoubtedly hear those cheers again when he and Julie run the Big Sur 21-miler next April.