Don Newton

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Don Allen Newton (born c. 1934; died May 16, 2023) was a long-time president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.

Newton served as an air intelligence officer and squadron operations officer with the U.S. Navy in Guam, Washington and Alaska. He married the former Coleta Farrell of Meridian, Mississippi at the Catholic chapel at Naval Air Station Agana in Guam on October 12, 1958.

After completing his military service, Newton graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in journalism, but took a job in industrial development with the Lewisburg Mississippi Chamber of Commerce in the outskirts of Memphis. From there he moved to the Delta Council in Stoneville, Mississippi, 90 minutes north of Vicksburg, where he worked to promote the development of catfish farming.

Newton came to Birmingham in 1970 to lead the newly-formed Metropolitan Development Board is its first director. In 1974 he transitioned to leadership of the Chamber of Commerce. He is credited with expanding membership of the chamber and leading numerous development and recruitment projects for the region. He remained in that role until his retirement in 1999.

During his career, Newton was given credit for recruiting passenger service at Birmingham Municipal Airport from U.S. Airways and Southwest. He worked doggedly with other promoters to try to bring a National Football League franchise to Legion Field. He was involved in efforts to host soccer games there during the 1996 Olympic Games and to establish the Vulcan Park Foundation to update Vulcan Park. He also worked on federal funding for development of Interstate 22.

Newton also served as publisher of Birmingham magazine, and several books released under the Chamber's imprint.

Newton died in 2023 in hospice care after an illness. He was survived by his two children, Don Jr and Midge Rast.


  • Thornton, William (May 16, 2023) "Long-time Birmingham Chamber of Commerce leader Don Newton dead at 88."
  • 'Don Allen Newton." obituary (May 17, 2023)