Baylor Remembers Former Regent, Music Dean

Aug. 28, 2000

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Former Baylor University regent Victor Newman and Daniel Sternberg, dean emeritus of the School of Music, are being remembered this week as two men whose lifetimes of service epitomized Baylor's mission, especially among countless students.

Newman, 89, died Thursday, Aug. 24, at a Waco hospital. Services were held Saturday at First Baptist Church, Waco, with Dr. Milton Cunningham officiating. A Masonic grave service followed at Oakwood Cemetery.

Sternberg, 87, died Saturday, Aug. 26, at his Waco home. Services will be at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home Chapel, with Rabbi Mordecai Podet officiating. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery.

A longtime Waco civic leader, successful businessman and philanthropist, Newman served for 18 years as a Baylor trustee and regent. Through established scholarships and personal contact with potential recipients, Newman and his wife were able to provide hundreds of Baylor students, as well as McLennan Community College and Texas State Technical College students, with a college education.

"He always was interested in those young people who seemingly did not have a great deal of opportunity," said Baylor President Emeritus Herbert H. Reynolds. "He'd find them in restaurants, grocery stores, just young people who needed a helping hand. His concern for young people and their future and their potential for doing good caused him to be the kind of benefactor he was."

Newman received the W.R. White Meritorious Service Award from the Baylor Alumni Association in 1983 and was presented the Alumnus Honoris Causa Award in 1992. In 1997, President Robert B. Sloan Jr. presented the Newmans with the Baylor University Founders Medal, which is reserved for individuals who have distinguished themselves in their professions and their service to Baylor and mankind.

Newman was born the son of a cowboy near Paducah, Texas, on July 16, 1911. After his mother died and his father suffered a stroke, he and his two brothers and sister were brought to the Waco State Home in 1923. He met and married his wife, Lillian, a Baylor graduate and schoolteacher, in the China Spring area and later returned to Waco.

Newman owned, helped start or managed several businesses, including Brazos Steel Building Company, Dealers Electrical Supply Company, Pure Milk Company and Fitting Supply Company. In addition to his service as a Baylor trustee and regent, he sat on the Baylor Development Council and spent nine years on the Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center board. A 33rd degree Mason, he was active with the Scottish Rite Foundation and served on the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children board for 27 years, where he chaired the committee responsible for the Rocker B Ranch in West, Texas. He was a member, trustee and deacon at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church.

Newman is survived by his wife of 63 years, Lillian; his daughters, Nancy Logan and Martha Fontenot and their husbands, Fred Logan and Milton Fontenot; grandchildren, Vicki Peters and her husband James Peters of Round Rock, Jim Logan of Corpus Christi and Neil Fontenot of Dallas; and great-grandchildren, Allyson and Matthew Peters.

Memorials may be made to Baylor University, P.O. Box 97026, Waco, Texas 76798; Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, 3000 Herring, Waco, Texas 76708; and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, 2222 Welborn, Dallas, Texas 75219.

Sternberg was born in 1913 in Lwow, Poland, and educated in Vienna, Austria. The son of music-loving parents, he began piano lessons at age five and later added the cello to his musical studies. He graduated at the top of his class from the Vienna National Academy of Music, where he was a student of conducting.

Upon graduation, he became assistant conductor (under the eminent Fritz Stiedry) of the Leningrad Grand Opera and the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. After serving as music director of the Tbilisi State Symphony Orchestra, he lived in Vienna, Riga and Stockholm. Then, in the fall of 1939, he escaped from Hitler's Nazi regime and emigrated to the United States with his Rumanian-born wife.

Sternberg lived for a year in New York and then moved to Dallas, where he became head of the piano department and conductor of chorus and opera at the Hockaday Institute of Music.

He joined the Baylor University School of Music in 1942 and succeeded Roxy Grove as chairman the following year. Then, just after World War II, Baylor President Pat Neff conferred upon him the newly created title of Dean of the School of Music.

The next three-and-a-half decades saw unprecedented growth in enrollment, faculty and facilities within Baylor's music program. Sternberg created the Oratorio Chorus, the Baylor Symphony Orchestra, the Graduate Division and the Baylor Opera Workshop. He also supervised expansion of the Music School to include Roxy Grove Hall and Waco Hall East. He was honored as the Baylor Student Council's "Professor of the Year" in 1960, as well as a "Piper Professor of 1969." His most recent honor was serving as bearer of the mace during the spring 2000 commencement ceremonies.

As a composer, Sternberg won a film score award in Austria, a first prize for vocal composition by the Texas Federation of Music Clubs and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's Harold J. Abrams Memorial Award for his "Concert Overture," which he wrote for the Baylor University Centennial in 1945. He also wrote and published numerous compositions in church music.

In 1962, Sternberg became music director and conductor of the revived Waco Symphony Orchestra, a post he held with distinction for the next 25 years. In 1980, when he stepped down as dean emeritus of the Baylor School of Music after nearly 40 years at the helm, he left behind a legacy of progressive leadership that continues to be felt and appreciated to this day.

"I feel that I have been inordinately fortunate in having an opportunity to do what I did [at Baylor] and that people let me do it for which I'm truly grateful. Some things probably could have never come off if people had not been willing to work with me and to let me point the way and set the direction especially in the earlier years when the music school was hardly very developed," Sternberg said in a story interview with Baylor Public Relations in 1999. "It has come a long way since I left because I have had a wonderful successor in Stephen Heyde who is a first-rate musician, a great friend and a man who has taken the orchestra where I left it and taken it up way above what I had achieved."

After his retirement, Sternberg stayed active as a much-in-demand speaker and lecturer and conducted the season-opening performance of the Baylor Symphony Orchestra only a year ago.

Heyde, The Mary Franks Thompson Professor of Orchestral Activities and Conductor-in-Residence at Baylor, said in an interview before the orchestra's Sept. 1999 performance that Baylor students are fortunate that they were able to meet and know their orchestra's founder.

"It is always highly inspirational and a real privilege to watch Dean Sternberg conduct. He has one of the finest musical minds around and he's a wonderful musician," Heyde said in a 1999 interview. "At our last performance, I was especially glad that our students had the opportunity to work with him because rarely do students have contact with the person who actually started the orchestra."

Sternberg is survived by his wife, Mary Jane Sternberg; her five children; two grandchildren; and a multitude of friends and former students.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Daniel Sternberg Music Scholarship at Baylor University or to the Waco Symphony Orchestra.

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