Remembering Captain Neil Newhard

Neil Newhard

Captain Neil Newhard, a longtime resident and boat captain here on St. John, passed away last week. His family asked that we share his obituary with all of you. 

Captain Neil Newhard, 72, Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI, and Rome City, IN, passed away on November 24, 2017. Neil was born in Fort Wayne, IN on November 3, 1945, the son of Laura Mae and Paul Newhard who preceded him in death in 1949 and 1980, respectively.

Neil was a sea captain, an artist, a master carpenter, a fixer of anything, and a savior to many through his vast array of talents. He was a “jack of all trades,” and he mastered them all. He sailed the seas, hunted the woods, set eagles free, and fathered two wonderful men.

As a boy, Neil raced go-carts and canoes in Fort Wayne; he developed a love for hunting and fishing, vintage cars and motorcycles, classic wooden sailboats, and people. Neil began a sailing career on Lake Michigan at the helm of his first classic wooden boat, Sir Tom. He later purchased the magnificent, 45-foot, Touche, and sailed her to the Caribbean and down the Amazon in South America; together, they made their home in Cruz Bay, where he lived for more than 35 years, returning to northern Indiana every year to open hunting season. In 1989, Touche was a victim to hurricane Hugo, one of the strongest and costliest hurricanes to impact the United States at that time. Neil then acquired Hirondelle, and later Flying Circus, which was destroyed in 2017 by record hurricane Irma. Neil chartered his engineless classic sailboats, moored them single-handedly, and lived aboard. His many racing successes included winning the Rolex Regatta in St. Thomas four times, sweeping the 1995 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, and winning Antigua Race Week, Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta, the BVI Spring Regatta, and Sweethearts of the Caribbean many times. He never lost a single-handed race.

Neil was the most memorable person to countless people with whom he shared his knowledge and understanding of the sea and his wicked dry sense of humor. He helped everyone who asked. He was never afraid to live life to the fullest. His religion was not formal, but, as he said, “If a man does not believe in God, send him to sea.” He made all of us better by being part of our lives. We will miss him incredibly.

Neil is survived by his sons, David Neil (Paula), Rome City, IN, with whom he lived the last seven months, and David Enzo, Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI, a sophomore at University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL. Enzo’s mother, Jini Lewis, Cruz Bay, was Neil’s friend, charter business associate, and devoted caregiver. Neil’s siblings are brother Gregg, Kendallville, IN, and sisters Louise (Steven) Clark, Glencoe, IL, and Lydia (Harley) Heastan, Fort Wayne IN. His granddaughter, Shelby Newhard, lives in Greenfield, IN. He had many nieces and nephews. He was treated as a member of Clay and Lisa Stark’s extended family in Waynedale, IN, being featured in writer John Stark’s Tales of the Caribbean, along with son Enzo as Shark Boy. He was also informally adopted by the Mary Jones family of Schilling Avenue in Fort Wayne, IN.

Services will be private; his life will be celebrated at a later date in Cruz Bay. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be sent to St. John Cancer Fund, P.O. Box 37, Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831 (stjohncancerfund.org); Goshen Center for Cancer Care, 200 High Park Drive, Goshen, IN 46526 (goshenhealth.com); and St. John Revolving Fund, P.O. Box 37, Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831 (thestjohnfoundation.org).

6 thoughts on “Remembering Captain Neil Newhard”

  1. I did not know Captain Neil, but after reading this lovely tribute it appears he had a fully exciting and adventurous life. Sail on Cap’t!

  2. There is not enough time or space to say how I Neil ha effected my life or what he means to me. I had the honor of meeting him in St John and we instantly became family. He was my rick there and not only my rock, my safe place but a true friend I can’t imagine Cruz Bay without him. I loved all his stories and show and tell when he woukd take out his pictures and tell stories for hours. My heart goes our to his family and all the people that crossed his path he was truly one of a kind I will miss him and will think of him every day with a smile. RIP dear friend I am sure he is watching over every one he loved. ❤️

  3. I remember first meeting Neil in Cruz Bay, 24 years ago, strong and quiet until you get to know him then get his sense of humor! He attended my wedding in Sarasota, Fl and had a love affair with one of my Best Friends, Jini, and they raised together their amazing Son, Enzo. Through out their years they have stayed great friends and parenting together.. Neil was one of a kind with a generous heart.. his love for sailing was contagious.. On one visit he brought us venison that he got on his last trip to IN and shared it with me and my family visiting from Fl. and his Lovango family.. so generous again.. God Bless you Neil and the people whom are still on this earth.. my sincere condolences and prayers..

  4. I miss you Neil. Ever since you left this island. Just not that long ago you were dining at High Tide.. early morning you’d come in so I could join you for biscuits and gravy. Then later in the day you’d take me sailing, as a part of your crew for the beautiful Flying Circus.. as well as your beautiful family I’ll always hold dear to my heart. You’re one of the smartest I’ve ever known .. your wit and charm Never got old … you always put a smile on my face and you’ll never be forgotten!
    Thank you for making my world a better place

  5. Sounds like a wonderful man…
    I live near Greenport Long Island NY, and recently came across the Hirondelle… looks like it’s been sitting in a shipyard here for many years…
    631-740-1743, if anyone is interested.
    Cheers, Joe M

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