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Family, friends remember Navajo Code Talker Alfred K. Newman Sr.

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Family and friends gathered in Farmington Saturday to say farewell to Navajo Code Talker Alfred K. Newman Sr. in a funeral service at the Maranatha Fellowship Christian Reformed Church.

Newman was among a group of Navajo men who used the Navajo language to develop an unbreakable code to transmit military messages in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

Newman, 94, died on Jan. 13 at a healthcare facility in Bloomfield. He was Naasht'ézhí dine'é (Zuni Clan), born for Tsi'naajínii (Black Streak Wood People Clan).

Marvin Newman delivered a eulogy for his father while standing near the flag-draped casket and photographs of the 94-year-old Marine Corps veteran.

A Navajo Code Talkers vest and hat were displayed during the funeral service for Navajo Code Talker Alfred K. Newman Sr. on Saturday at the Maranatha Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Farmington.

He affectionately called his father "pop" throughout the speech. He also recognized his father's fearlessness, whether he used it to respond to situations or to demonstrate his cooking skills in the family kitchen.

If you were lucky, and you needed it, he'll pack you a lunch," Marvin Newman said.

Marvin Newman is one of five children Alfred Newman and his wife, Betsy E. Newman, raised in Kirtland.

Alfred Newman was known to his family for loving the outdoors because it provided opportunities to fish and to hunt, his son said.

Marvin Newman also recalled his father cared for Chevrolet station wagons – he recalled his father owning at least six – and for dining out.

Members of the U.S. Marine Corps prepare to fold a flag during the funeral service for Navajo Code Talker Alfred K. Newman Sr. on Saturday in Farmington.

"Pop loved him a hot roast beef sandwich," Marvin Newman said about one of his father's favorite restaurant in Grants.

As for the station wagons, Marvin Newman remembered each model was a different color, including one that had wood panel exterior siding.

Cherylin Newman, his only daughter, remembered her father as quiet and humble but whenever he was asked to appear at events involving the code talkers, he participated without hesitation.

She said her parents settled in Kirtland in the 1960s after they started working at the Utah International Navajo Mine, now known as Navajo Mine, near Fruitland.

Alfred Newman started at the mine as a laborer then as supervisor for the drill and blast crew, Cherylin Newman said.

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Matt Perry prepares to present a flag to the family of Navajo Code Talker Alfred K. Newman Sr. during the funeral service on Saturday in Farmington.

He worked there for 25 years then retired. In retirement, he traveled with his wife to code talker events.

"He lived a full life. He affected people in a way where everybody thought he was a wonderful person," Cherylin Newman said.

Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer, right, reads the proclamation issued by him and tribal president Jonathan Nez, left, in honor of Navajo Code Talker Alfred K. Newman Sr.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer were among those attending the funeral service. Navajo Nation Council Delegates Amber Kanazbah Crotty and Daniel E. Tso also attended, along with former tribal chairman and Navajo Code Talkers Association President Peter MacDonald Sr.

From left, Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, Wanda MacDonald, Navajo Code Talker Peter MacDonald Sr. and Marvin Newman watch the flag-folding ceremony.

Nez delivered the first portion of his remarks in the Navajo language then provided his explanation for that action in English.

"To honor him today, I wanted to speak in our own native tongue," Nez said.

He added it is important for families to tell their children the story of the code talkers.

"The code talkers story shows the strength and resilience of our people," the president said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Joshua Castaneda plays taps at the funeral service for Navajo Code Talker Alfred K. Newman Sr. on Saturday in Farmington