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Super Senior: Chuck Newsham

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 2:44 PM EDT
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COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - Chuck Newsham’s life is about art. “I’ve been working on this painting here for probably three months,” Newsham said.

The Colchester resident paints out of his home studio. At 90, age is doing a number on his hands, making detailed work more difficult. But Newsham is not a man who gives up -- he takes his life and artwork seriously. “Because to be able to do things like create stuff so forth, it funnels your concentration on that kind of thing,” he said.

In 1948, Newsham went into the Navy. With a year left on his hitch, he requested a transfer to the USS Rochester, which was on a world tour. World War II was a recent memory, but another conflict was looming. “June 25th of 1950 the North Koreans attack South Korea,” he said.

The USS Rochester was no longer on a cruise, but at war. “I enlisted for three years, I ended up doing over five because they wouldn’t let me out!” Newsham said.

During a stint off the heavy cruiser, the reality of war sunk in, making Newsham angry with the politicians who he says put American troops in harm’s way. “I just saw too many young Marines and soldiers get planted in the Korean mud,” he said. “I wasn’t even 20 years old and boy was I bitter.”

Creating art was a release. “Painting is a real outlet for emotional problems, you know,” Newsham said. When he came back from the war, it was to another reality. “I don’t want to be a starving artist, so I said, I guess I’ll go to engineering school,” he said.

He met Gert working at a GE plant in Massachusetts.

Reporter Joe Carroll: How are you two different?

Gert Newsham: Oh my God, like night and day... I’m very forgiving -- he’s lucky.

His expertise was designing rockets while hers was projectiles. The couple is in sync, playing off each other like a comedy routine. “I used to shoot elastics at him, and boy was I good. Boing!” Gert said.

Chuck’s boss got hit. “I said it was that nutcase over there in the other office shooting at me,” Newsham said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: So, you were flirting with him?

Gert Newsham: Oh always. I was a flirt, a big flirt.

But it was more than a fling.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What did you see in him?

Gert Newsham: What did I see in him? That’s a good question... Maybe he was the only guy I couldn’t ring around my finger. Did you ever propose to me? How did we get married?

Chuck Newsham: Beats the hell out of me!

But they did. And there’s proof -- married with three kids for 63 years. “There’s no question about the fact that I wouldn’t have survived this long if it hadn’t been for her,” Newsham said.

Back at the studio, the Super Senior brushes aside any worries, one stroke at a time. “Oh yeah, it’s always good to paint,” he said.

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