Family announces death of former Newhall resident, Signal editor

Jonathan Newhall and his wife of 44 years, Barbara Falconer Newhall. Photo by Ásgeir Fotographica

The family of Jonathan Newhall, a former Newhall resident and editor of The Newhall Signal during the 1960s, announced he died Friday at the age of 79.

Newhall’s family reported he died at an intensive care unit in Oakland following complications from a mild stroke and heart attack.

After graduating from Stanford University in 1964, Newhall left his city life in Berkeley and immediately moved to the small town named in honor of his great-great-grandfather Henry Mayo Newhall, a gold rush pioneer, and he joined the local newspaper.

He worked as general manager of the paper from 1964 to 1968, and then as editor.

“During his tenure, the paper’s liberal editorial stance made it a renegade in a conservative Southern California community,” the family wrote in a news release distributed this week regarding his death. “In 1969, the paper took the lead in a contentious local school board recall election, which voters ultimately approved. Shortly thereafter, in a different issue, The Signal called for the resignation of the local congressman in Washington. Jon’s editorial on this matter won the top editorial award from the Greater L.A. Press Club in 1969. Ironically, the guest host who presented this honor at the awards dinner was the embattled congressman himself.”

On Tuesday, Newhall’s twin brother, Tony, said that while his brother was only in the Santa Clarita Valley for six years before moving back to the Northern California area to begin his own media outlet, the small-town community had a major impact on his life.

“I think he was introduced to a different living environment by coming here and away from the big university and the city and coming and settling here, dealing with the day-to-day,” said Tony, a Valencia resident. “I think it was eye-opening to him, and I think he probably looked at it with gratefulness.”

Jon was a known advocate for a number of charities, including the Boys & Girls Club, as well as serving as an officer for the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation that benefits nonprofit efforts throughout California. During his time as the foundation’s president, Newhall raised $700,000 each year for nonprofits in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“I think that’s what he learned the most is in a smaller community — like almost going back in time from the city — he could see what effects local social and charitable organizations have on people,” Tony said. “And he got to know people in the community, finding out that working with them was very interesting, very rewarding and very helpful.”

Jon is survived by his wife of 44 years, Barbara Falconer Newhall, his two children, Peter Falconer Newhall of Minneapolis, and Christina Falconer Newhall of Studio City, his two granddaughters, as well as his brother Skip Newhall and his twin brother, Tony Newhall, both of Valencia.

No formal memorial service has been planned.

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