The late David J. Newton was a star football player for the Marian Colts –a wide receiver/defensive back – and ran track during his high school years.

Later in life, he was drawn back to Marian Catholic High School, becoming the team's physician and supporting the school, a "Marian Family" man in many ways.

Newton, 41, died on April 14, 2006 after an automobile accident on Flagstaff Road in Jim Thorpe. A gastroenterologist, Newton owned and operated the Carbon-Schuylkill Endoscopy Center in Lehighton.

Now, his Marian legacy will live on through the Dr. David J. Newton Fitness/Wellness Center, which a group of parents and alumni have dedicated in his name. The group, which includes Bruce Balliet, Mike Bellizia, Ralph Richards and Jeannie Rutch, has created the Dr. David J. Newton Memorial Fund, an ongoing charitable arm of the Big Blue Athletics Council, to honor Newton and perpetuate his energetic and generous spirit.

The center is within the Hugh Wink Gallagher Weight-Room at the school, in Hometown, and is intended to support the future health classes, all sports teams, alumni, students and support staff. The memorial fund's first project created the center by upgrading the former weight room at the school, installing new equipment, special floor padding, a new ceiling, lighting and a fresh coat of paint. The room had not been updated for about 25 years, said alumnus and parent Rutch.

The improvements will continue for generations.

The memorial fund aims to raise $60,000 for this first project, and is about halfway to its goal, said Balliet. The fund is supported by Newton's widow, Virginia, who has contributed $15,000, he said.

"It is in this vein that we ask for your support in making this venture happen," Balliet said. "We are asking all David's family, friends, and colleagues to join us in this endeavor to 'give back' to the school and community he so very much loved and supported throughout his very short lifetime."

Marian head coach and athletic director Stan Dakosty said Newton exemplified the school's tradition of alumni involvement.

"Unfortunately, we lost him much too early, but this is his legacy now, this is something he's passed on to the young people at this school," he said.

Newton's mother, Stella, is touched by the effort.

"I'm happy they are having this memorial for David because it's for the children, and for the whole Marian community, not just the athletes, and he was always interested in that," she said. "I'm sure he would be well pleased with what they've done."

Plans are also being made for a bronze horse, representing the Marian Colts, to be permanently placed at the Men of Marian Stadium. Student athletes passing by the horse will be encouraged to reach out and touch it for good luck and motivation in remembrance of Newton's fighting spirit. Newton and his wife raised championship horses, Rutch said.

Those wishing to become involved in the projects are asked to contact Ralph Richards at (570) 778-6283, Balliet at (570) 885-4046 or Rutch at (570) 668-3575.