Until her son, Fred, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, Gwill Newman expected to use her privileged upbringing to support charitable enterprises improving education, expanding opportunities for musical and artistic expression, and promoting civic well-being in her native Cleveland,Ohio.
After Fred's illness became part of the daily battle of life, a story she describes in My Son's Name Was Fred, she used her ingenuity and grace to promote research on the brain. Newman believed it was an untapped frontier before most activists, and many psychiatrists who were still converts of Freud. In 1978, she joined the board of the Brain Research Foundation at the University of Chicago, and three years later she helped raise money to purchase the first PET scanner in Illinois. She was also on the ground floor of the founding of the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), serving as its first president during the formative years between 1984 and 1988.
For the last two years, while undergoing treatment for cancer, she got to see the use of some of the technology she helped fund. Gwill Newman "thoroughly enjoyed talks about research, and talking about the imaging that was being done on her," said Terre Sharma, executive director of the Brain Research Foundation where Newman kept a relationship. Between 1995 and 2000, when she moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, she chaired the board. Newman died on Monday, August 30, in New Mexico.