Katherine Anne Robinson
Associate News Editor
Former Illinois state senator and longtime Hyde Park resident Richard Newhouse, Jr. died of a heart attack Thursday, April 25 in his home on Cornell Avenue. He was 78.
A graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, where he was president of his class, Newhouse represented the 13th District for 24 years. He was first elected to the Illinois Senate in 1966 and served throughout his life as an active spokesman for African-Americans.
"Dick was far ahead of his time," said David Canter, Newhouse's first campaign manager and a longtime friend. The Black Liberation Movement was not yet ready for Dick Newhouse.
Newhouse played a key role in getting former Senator Cecil Partee elected as the first black leader of the General Assembly in 1971 by boycotting a party caucus and threatening to withhold his vote on a key reorganization vote if Partee were not chosen Senate president. In 1975, Newhouse ran as the city's first black mayoral candidate.
Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Newhouse earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in journalism from Boston University before moving to Hyde Park in 1955.
While volunteering at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, Newhouse met his wife Kathie. The two married in 1958. According to Canter, Newhouse's marriage to a white woman was very controversial and many Hyde Park members were not willing to accept his decision.
Newhouse was a decoder for the U.S. Air Force during World War II and was part of the Normandy invasion. He also worked as a staff attorney for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and as an advertising director at Associated Publishers and the Chicago Defender.
"Dick was a very genteel person," Canter said. "He was very quiet and soft-spoken, but he had ideas." He is survived by his wife Kathie, his children Suzanne, Richard Singleton, and Holly, and his sister Eloise Frazier.