Thomas Haywood Newkirk entered eternal rest on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, at Fort Tryon Nursing Home in Manhattan. A celebration of life was held at Esplanade Gardens Community Center in Harlem on Saturday, June 1, 2019. He was the ninth child of 14 children, born to Climith and Esther Newkirk. He was very athletic, playing basketball, swimming and tennis. Attending his lower education in Harlem schools, and graduating from Morris H.S. in the Bronx, he became the first child in the family to attend college. He was a graduate of The University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Thomas served as director of the Educational Opportunity Program at SUNY Cortland for 21 years. During his time at Cortland, Thomas welcomed almost 1,000 EOP students to SUNY Cortland, students who were not initially thought to be college ready. Tom created the Larry Newkirk Memorial Scholarship Award, in honor of his late son. The top program student is honored annually as the recipient of this award.
For his extraordinary service to the college, Thomas was a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service in 1979. Additionally, he was recognized with Who’s Who Among Black Americans, the Arthur O. Eves Community Award, the City of Cortland Mayor’s Appreciation Award and the Council of EOP Directors Excellence Award.
Thomas lived for many years in McGraw, N.Y., and cherished his time at the farm and in our community.