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).