Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is opening a new exhibit in its library entitled, “Uncommon Friends: The James D. Newton Collection” on Thursday, February 25 with a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The reception and exhibit are open to the public and located in the library at 10501 FGCU Boulevard South in its Archives and Special Collections Galleries on the third floor (Rm. 322). The exhibit will remain on display February 25 through April 22, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday at the same location. Parking is available in garage 1 (PG1) from which you can walk between the lakes to the library entrance.
James D. Newton (1905-1999) was a prominent twentieth century entrepreneur and author of “Uncommon Friends: Life with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel, and Charles Lindbergh,” which recounts his friendship with these visionary figures. The exhibit follows Newton, a young Fort Myers real estate developer, to a fated encounter with Mina Edison that would alter the course of his life. His friendships with the likes of Edison and Ford would inspire him throughout his adventurous life, including his time enlisted in the United States Army and his subsequent involvement with the Moral Re-Armament movement. Much like their influence on the twentieth century, these men would have lasting impact on Newton’s life until his death at the age of 94 in 1999.
The Uncommon Friends Foundation, established in 1993 and named after Newton’s memoir, is dedicated to lifelong character building among today’s youth and business leaders and the historic preservation of James D. Newton’s papers, photographs and artifacts in the City of Fort Myers. In 2012, the Uncommon Friends Foundation and Florida Gulf Coast University Library partnered to digitally preserve and provide public access to this captivating collection of materials that can be viewed online at https://fgcu.digital.flvc.org/islandora/search/?type=edismax&collection=fgcu:020302.
For more information, contact Melissa VandeBurgt, Head of Archives, Special Collections & Digital Initiatives, FGCU Library at (239) 590-7658 or Kaleena Rivera at (239) 590-7506.