TKC EXCLUSIVE!!! JACKSON COUNTY DEMOCRATS MOURN KANSAS CITY POLITICAL MATRIARCH DUTCH NEWMAN!!!
First word on the end of an era from a group that this beloved Kansas City political lady helped bolster throughout her life . . .
On the Passing of Democratic Giant Dutch Newman
It is with great sadness that we have learned Hila "Dutch" Newman, one of the strongest Democratic leaders this area has ever known, has passed away at the age of 95. News spread quickly among the political community here in Jackson County all the way to the Missouri delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Democratic leaders young and old are deeply moved by this news, but also reflect on her lifetime of service.
Dutch began a long and amazing career as a volunteer and party builder going back to 1944. For decades, she was the head of the Westport Landing Democratic Club and has made an impact on every election in Kansas City since the end of the Second World War. Over the years, the number of high-profile officials that have paid their respects or honored her is too long to list but includes the likes of George McGovern and Tom Eagleton to Joe Biden and Barack Obama.
Senator Claire McCaskill released a brief statement this morning saying, "Dutch was like a second mother to me. She was warm and loving — and at the same time a tenacious and unrelenting institution of the Missouri Democratic party. There will never be another one like her." Jackson County Democratic Committee Chairman Tom Wyrsch had similar thoughts. "I've known her my whole life. She was one of my true mentors and I know she was the same to dozens of others.
Her impact truly cannot be overstated. Every candidate for city, county or state office (and sometimes national) longed for the approval of Dutch. Getting the opportunity to speak with her for a moment at events or over the phone was viewed as both critical politics and an honor. Even in her late years, she made every effort to hear from candidates and elected officials as well as show her support by attending major events around the area.
The Kansas City Star interviewed her last year around the time of her 95th birthday. In the interview, she was asked about the key to grassroots organizing, her true passion for so many years. Her answer, like Dutch, was thoughtful and true. "It’s really not a mystery. It’s about getting a group of people together for a worthy cause, going door to door, meeting your neighbors, having meetings that build relationships within the group, creating a sense of community for a cause or candidate. And it doesn’t hurt to have something to eat and drink."
Dutch touched hundreds of lives is a very meaningful and personal way. The landscape of Democratic politics, and therefore our very society, is better because of her. Our friend will be missed.