Aug. 17, 2012
AUBURN, Ala. -- Sandra (Bridges) Newkirk, a 40-year faculty member at Auburn who was instrumental in building the women's athletics program at the university, passed away Wednesday. She was 74.
A graduate of Purdue University and Indiana University, Newkirk came to Auburn in 1966 as an instructor and intramurals coordinator for the Physical Education Department (currently the Department of Kinesiology).
In the fall of 1967, five years before the passage of Title IX, Newkirk took a volleyball team comprised of intramural players to Memphis for a tournament, which led to the formation of volleyball at Auburn. Newkirk coached Auburn's volleyball team for 13 years, leading the team to Alabama Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AAIAW) state championships in 1971, 1973 and 1974. The 1974 season was the first full season as Newkirk led Auburn to a 35-14 mark and the AAIAW title. Besides serving as the first women's volleyball coach, she was the first women's Athletics Director at Auburn as well as one of the first Intramurals directors.
"We are saddened by the loss of Sandra Newkirk, who touched the lives of countless Auburn students and athletes during her 40 years on campus," Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs said. "Sandra was instrumental in blazing the trail for women's athletics at Auburn, and she leaves behind a legacy that will continue to inspire countless student-athletes. Sandra was a fixture at Auburn athletics events who will be dearly missed by all who knew her. Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband, Dewayne, and her entire family."
She retired in 2005 after 40 years as an Associate Professor and academic adviser where she influenced and mentored and advised thousands of students pursuing careers in physical education, health promotion and exercise science. Her numerous awards and accomplishments include Founder and first President of the Alabama Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AAIAW), the AAAIW Volleyball Coach of the Year (1978), the Alabama Sports Festival State Honoree (1996), the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award (2005) and the Pamela Wells Sheffield Award (2006).Upon retirement, the university recognized her service by awarding Newkirk emeritus status.
Born in Columbus, Ind., Newkirk was involved in numerous community activities. She was a rape counselor and a charter board member of the Rape Counselors of East Alabama, a member of Tiger Traders, secretary of the Auburn Diamond Club, a charter member of Women Inspiring and Nurturing Greatness in Student-Athletes (WINGS) and was a mediator with the Lee County Judicial Volunteer Program. She also served as a bailiff for Lee County. She was a longtime member of Lakeview Baptist Church where she was involved in numerous church activities, such as Sunday school and the Food Pantry.
She is survived by her husband, Dewayne Newkirk of Opelika; a son, Eric Wayne Newkirk (Donna) of Columbus, Ind.) and a granddaughter, Corrina.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Sandra Bridges Newkirk Annual Scholarship Fund through the College of Education, Office of Development, 3084 Haley Center, Auburn, AL 36849 (334) 844-9144; or to the Lakeview Baptist Church Benevolent Ministry, 1600 E, Glenn Ave., Auburn, AL 36830.
Visitation will be held on Saturday, August 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home and Crematory in Opelika. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 19, at Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn. Burial will take place the following Saturday in Columbus, IN, at St. Paul Lutheran Church Cemetery.