Genevieve  "Gene"  Newsome

Genevieve Newsome "Gene" Newsome Cleo Genevieve "Gene" Newsome packed a lot of living into her 102 years of life. She was a mother, a Sunday School teacher, a nurse, a poet, a dancer, an unlicensed counselor for all of her many children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, an electronic evangelist, a Christian, a wit, a political pundit, and one of the toughest, most independent members of the Greatest Generation you'll ever meet. On Oct. 7, 2022, she finally left all of that behind and, surrounded by her loved ones, passed into Heaven, where she is surely dancing in those high heels she so loved. Gene was born Jan. 29, 1920, to Nellie Olive Sims and John Ballard on a hog farm in rural Nebraska. There was no electricity or central heat in the home she shared with big brother Don, or the one-room school house they attended. Heat came from a pot-bellied stove; light from a kerosene lamp. She inherited a love of learning from her mother, who sent both her and Don off to high school in the county seat at the ages of 14 and 12, respectively. Gene and her family moved from Superior to Palisades, Nebraska when she was four. There they were joined by her younger sister, Joy, who was born when Gene was 12. Gene married Jack Newsome on May 3, 1941, in Seaside, Oregon. They moved to Idaho and raised their four children - Linda, Beverly, Jack and Janice, on a farm near Riverside. Jack died on Dec. 7, 1968. Gene was protector, nurturer and encourager for her children throughout her lifetime. With her backing and encouragement, all four children graduated from college and had successful professional careers. Gene also went back to school, getting a degree as a nurse and working at both State Hospital South and for Dr. August "Bud" Miller in Blackfoot. Later, after retiring from her nursing career, she worked as the church secretary at First Baptist Church in Blackfoot. Her work career certainly did not define her, however. She was thoroughly engaged in the lives of her children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. She gave many of them their first lessons in math and reading in her "private kindergarten" sessions. She drove many to and from school. And she gave them all a solid background on the Bible, as both a formal Sunday School teacher, and in her day-to-day interactions. Over the last week or so of her life, there was an endless stream of children, grand-children, great-grandchildren, even great-great grandchildren filing through her Pocatello apartment to share laughter and stories, and to say their loving goodbyes - a testament to the powerful impact she had on her extended family. A staunch conservative, Gene loved to engage in long talks about politics, and she was fully involved even in the later years of her life. She took great pride in voting, in person, in the 2020 presidential election, when she was 100 years old. That election also happened to mark the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in the United States. When a reporter from the Journal interviewed her about that experience, she expressed the sadness she felt when Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945. The reporter asked her if FDR was her favorite president and she responded with characteristic wit, "No, he was a Democrat." She loved music and dancing, and she loved nothing more than listening to her daughters sing. When daughters Linda and Beverly were serenading her at her 100th birthday party, she got up and, with the help of son Jack and daughter Janice, began dancing. It was one of those "Grandma" kind of moments for which she was famous. A lifelong learner, Gene adapted to the cell phone and internet age, even as her sight and hearing began to fail her in later years. She broke her hip when she was 92, and, still living alone, did not want to yield her independence by bringing in full-time care-givers during her rehab. Her children were naturally concerned about her safety, so to assuage their concerns she agreed to text them every morning and evening. But she decided those texts were going to come with a lesson. So they typically included Bible verses or inspirational quotes. Her grandchildren wanted to be part of the daily inspirational texts, they shared them with friends, and eventually Gene's texts went viral. The distribution list eventually grew to about 200 people in 15 states, and there is no telling how many more people received them via forward. Gene developed friendships with people she'd never known before they started getting her texts, including a woman from Texas who was so taken by Gene's messages of inspiration that she flew to Pocatello just to meet her. "She is a tiny, little thing with a very big heart that share's God's love every day," the woman wrote in an email. "Her messages appear right when we need them and serve as a reminder that someone is always there. That we are never alone..." If Gene had a final message to her many family members and friends, that surely would be it: You are not alone. Jesus is always with you. This is from one of the many poems Gene authored during her life: "For as life goes swiftly by And closer, closer heaven's door, With joy I'm looking forward To what's on the other shore. "No more talking of the good old days, There, better up above. I just keep looking upward To my Jesus with love." Gene is survived by her four children, Linda Lindley, Beverly Brumfield and Janice Jean (Brad Bugger), all of Pocatello; and Jack Newsome (Julie), of Burnet, Texas; 9 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her mother Nellie and father John, her brother Don and sister Joy, and four grandchildren (Tawny, Brock, Rebecca and Bart). Funeral services will be Monday, Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. at the Chubbuck Methodist Church, 5147 Whitaker Rd., with the Rev. Tom Shanor presiding. A viewing will be held one hour prior to the funeral at the church. Burial will be in the Grove City Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are under direction of Hawker Funeral Home, Blackfoot. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Valley Mission, online at, or by mail at Valley Mission, 442 N. Arthur Ave., Pocatello, Id., 83204.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

The Idaho State Journal invites you to take part in the community conversation. But those who don't play nice may be uninvited. Don't post comments that are off topic, defamatory, libelous, obscene, racist, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. We may remove any comment for any reason or no reason. We encourage you to report abuse, but the decision to delete is ours. Commenters have no expectation of privacy and may be held accountable for their comments. Comments are opinions of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions or views of Idaho State Journal.