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Last week we received the sad news that Doug Newell, the L.A. County Parks and Recreation Supervisor at Dr. Richard Rioux Park, had passed away. Newell died on December 29, 2017. It was a tremendous loss for the Stevenson Ranch community and the County Parks Department.

Doug Newell was one of those rare people who was dedicated to his job and passionate about what he was doing for the community. I remember the first time that I met him when he took over as supervisor at Rioux Park. He was a gentle soul who had an intensity to his mission at the park and that was something great for our community.

As I got to know him over the years, I relished in making him laugh. We had some terrific conversations and in the midst of his serious demeanor, I enjoyed making him smile and lighten the tone of the moment. We had a some laughs while doing some good for the community.

As a community volunteer, I worked with Newell over the years on events that the community partnered with the County on. I was always secure in the notion that when he said he’d take care of a particular task, he did. Newell always followed through. He picked up the ball and carried it to a higher, better, new level, which benefitted the entire community. And that was what made Newell a shining star, he cared and did his job exceedingly well.

He took his job seriously. He made sure that he was responsive to the communities needs and expanded the programming at Rioux Park accordingly. His programs were well attended and in the case of the July 4th Fireworks Spectacular, the Easter Egg Hunt and the Turkey toss, by the thousands. The July 4th show in particular had record setting attendance year after year, with upwards of seven to eight thousand attending. Newell was an unsung hero who quietly and diligently was a force behind these events that brought residents together for fun, celebration and a sense of community.

As seems to be the case too often, only the good die young and Newell was taken from this world way too soon. He was a great man who cared. He had a passion for our community and making the quality of life better for all the residents. His passing leaves a void that will be difficult to fill.

I will miss seeing Doug Newell at community meetings giving updates on all the activities going on at the park. I’ll also miss making him laugh. My sincere condolences go out to his family and friends for this unexpected and devastating loss.