Hal Newsom (BA, 1952): Advertiser and Philanthropist
By Simone Willynck –
Hal Newsom (BA, 1952) has had an incredible number of accomplishments throughout his life, some of which include being a private in the U.S. Army, President and CEO of the largest ad agency in the Northwest, and being a strong advocate in the fight against Parkinson’s disease. With these examples, it is easy to see why he greatly deserves his place in the UW Department of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame.
Before moving to Seattle, Newsom graduated from Beloit College in Wisconsin. Newsom followed his dreams and his heart to Seattle, coming for a girl named Peggy, now his wife of 58 years. Unable to find a job at an advertising agency, he decided to enroll in the former School of Communications as a journalism major.
While at the UW, Newsom became the sports editor for The Daily where he sharpened his writing skills. He got his first taste of advertising when creating his campaign for the new and upcoming restaurant, Burgermaster. After he graduated, he decided to enter the U.S. Army.
When his tour ended in 1955, he returned to Seattle to resume his search for a job in advertising. Newsom found his start at Safeco Insurance where he was an ad manager. After working for Safeco for a short time, he was hired on at Cole & Weber, the largest advertising agency in the Northwest at that time. This is where he found his niche.
Newsom was president and CEO of Cole & Weber for 33 years, producing more than 2,000 ads throughout his career, including TV commercials for Boeing, which aired during Monday Night Football, and the iconic Wein Air goose ads.
Fellow alumnus Don Kraft (BA, 1948) said, “As president of Cole & Weber, he was my dreaded competitor for many years. I consider him to be probably the most talented ad guy ever to come out of our school.”
When Newsom retired in 1988, he continued doing some of the more adventurous, and seemingly impossible things in life, like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Chirripo, and conquering Mount Rainier twice.
Along with these feats, Newsom has also run a number of marathons. He is a master rower, bicyclist, and he sat on the board for Outward Bound of Seattle, a nonprofit educational organization serving people through learning expeditions that help them with self-discovery.
In 1995, Newsom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but as always he didn’t let anything slow him down. Almost immediately, he plunged into activities related to the disease, becoming one of the first board members of the Northwest Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. The foundation created the Booth Gardner Parkinson’s Care Center at Evergreen Hospital. Newsom served on the board for eight years, helping to create the facility to treat all aspects of Parkinson’s.
Newsom also wrote a book for people who newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease called HOPE-For the Newly Diagnosed Parkinson’s Disease Person. In the book, Newsom explains the four keys to a better quality of life for people with Parkinson’s. The acronym “HOPE” stands for: Help, Optimism, Physician, and Exercise.
Newsom and his wife, Peggy, have also done philanthropic work, creating a foundation called College Success Foundation. The foundation gives financial support and inspiration to low-income middle school students to finish high school, and provides the unique integrated system of supports and scholarships they need to graduate from college and succeed in life.
Newsom was a transformative force in the world of advertising. Now his wisdom and guidance help make a difference in the Parkinson’s community and the College Success Foundation. David Domke, chair of the Department of Communication, said, “He has put enormous time and energy into causes that make a difference in people’s lives. That’s what we look for in choosing Alumni Hall of Fame members — people who have had successful careers and who have worked to make the world a better place. Hal has done this in so many ways.”