American Veteran 01
Official Obituary of

Bobby Newbill

May 10, 1947 ~ November 28, 2023 (age 76) 76 Years Old
Obituary Image

Bobby Newbill Obituary

I’m to act as if I’ve been in a shell.

It has cracked so now I can yell.

If I’m to be from poor to rich,

I must believe there is a switch.

       - Bobby Newbill, November 28, 1979

A poet. A builder of homes, of family, of community. A soldier who served his country with pride and fought for social justice his whole life through. A husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend.

Bobby Newbill’s story began on Friday, May 10, 1947, in Elkhart, Indiana, the second oldest child born to the union of Rozell A. Newbill and Marian Grace Scott-Newbill.

I thought I had a grand design; the way I lived my life,

but then I met you, and you just blew my mind.

     - Bobby Newbill, February 13, 1994

Bob met the love of his life, Debra, in CCD classes at Saint Augustine Parish South Bend and became a Catholic in the early 1960s. They shared a life of faith, characterized by decades of dedicated service to the St. Augustine Parish community. Their loving marriage of over 50 years grew to include their close-knit family of daughters: Juliana and Maya; and son, Bobby Omari.

Bobby was also a selfless caretaker of everyone around him; helping many in need over the years, often drawing people closer to his faith by example.

A 1965 graduate of Central High School, Bobby studied business  at Indiana University South Bend before being drafted into the United States. Army, serving with pride as a Private First Class in Vietnam.

When Bobby returned from Vietnam, his experiences with racial discrimination led him to become a civil rights activist who became prominent in the community. ‘Bandele LaSana’ fought against injustice and was one of the first to locally assemble young black men to join the cause. He was one of the organizers of the Liberation Movement.

To Whom It May Concern:

I have a question to ask

Is our country so organized, so controlled

That the plea of the oppressed goes unheard

And when heard goes unanswered?

     - Bobby Newbill, Date unknown

Throughout his career, Bobby worked at Ave Maria Press, the South Bend Urban League, Hansel Center, and for African-American entrepreneur Charlie Howell. In 1972, he and his brother Rozell Newbill, Jr. launched Newbill Construction Company. Bobby was a skilled general contractor who developed expertise in roofing.

I’m not cheap nor sweet, but I’m fair and neat.

I will work hard and with my hands, but only after I’ve made a plan.

So call on me when you want something done.

I’m sure I’ll be busy, but I’ll still come.

And if you can’t wait because I’m somewhat late,

call someone else…or else wait!

     - Bobby Newbill, May 19, 1986

Bobby’s dad taught him to fish at a young age, and Bobby frequently hosted a fish fry for family and friends. He rarely returned from a fishing trip empty-handed, and he delighted in cleaning the fresh fish and frying them according to his special recipe, complete with the best pan-fried potatoes and onions.

I cannot feed the flock; only a few;

This is an invite, especially for two.

Come eat some fish - black fried style -

And enjoy yourself with us for a while.

      - Bobby Newbill, August 25, 1998

He was the life of the party and loved dancing and music. Anything - from the classic doo-wop of the Shirelles and he Miracles to the R&B soul sound of the Delfonics, the Stylistics, and Patti LaBelle, to modern-day artists Bruno Mars, Fantasia, and Gregory Porter - could be heard in the Newbill’s home. Another favorite pastime was spending quality time watching basketball and football with his son, Omari.

I have the power within me to create a masterpiece;

A lyrical poem so very vivid;

A melodious song so sweet;

A thought so true; an act so bold;

I behold the power in me to create a masterpiece.

     - Bobby Newbill, December 27, 1976

A lifelong poet, Bobby began writing poetry as a pre-teen. He shared his gift for rhyme, humor, honest insight, and heartfelt sentiment with those closest to him, writing poems for those he loved, and commemorating others’ lives. He was the honorary Poet Laureate of Saint Augustine’s. Though Bobby will be dearly missed, the poetry he leaves behind will forever be the legacy of a life well-lived.

Bobby Newbill, 76, departed this life peacefully on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, at his South Bend residence surrounded by his loving family.

He leaves to cherish his memory his loving wife of more than 50 years, Debra (McMorris) Newbill; daughters: Juliana (John) Newbill of South Bend, Indiana, and Maya Newbill of Lawrenceville, Georgia; son: Bobby Omari Newbill of South Bend, Indiana; brothers: Desi Arnez (Patricia) Newbill of Sunset, Utah, Rozell Newbill Jr. of South Bend, Indiana, Angelo (Rubystine) Newbill of Huntersville, North  Carolina, Tony Newbill of Carson, California; sisters: Donna Mae (Lonnie) Newbill-Hosea, Rosaleatha Newbill, Michelle T. Newbill,   Cecelia Faith Newbill - all of South Bend, Indiaana; aunts: Edna Mae Ester of South Bend, Indiana, Cagee Daniels of Detroit, Michigan;  uncles: Donald (Betty) Scott of Madison, Illinois, Carl (Zaida Gerna) Daniels of Osceola, Indiana; and six grandchildren: Morgan, Madison, Eden, McKenzie, Israel, and Canaan.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Bobby Newbill, please visit our floral store.

 Bobby Newbill Service Program

Friends and family have shared their relationship to show their support.
How do you know Bobby Newbill?
We are sorry for your loss.
Help others honor Bobby's memory.


December 7, 2023

2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
St. Augustine Catholic Church
1501 W. Washington Street
South Bend, Indiana 46601

Mass of Christian Burial
December 7, 2023

3:00 PM
St. Augustine Catholic Church
1501 W. Washington Street
South Bend, Indiana 46601


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