Development & Alumni Relations Office 


Michael Milne Newmann (died 11 January 2020)


Obituary submitted by Michael’s daughter, Kathleen Newmann


Michael Milne Newmann was born in Yorkshire in 1931. His father, Reginald Neumann, was manager of Stanton and Staveley coke ovens, and this necessitated the family’s move to Stanton-by-Dale in Derbyshire. At the age of six, Michael had a fall which resulted in a diagnosis of Perthes Disease, and many of his formative and early teenage years were sporadically spent in hospital.


It is a great tribute to the hospital tutors that he excelled above children in the normal school system, and when his Maths tutor left, Michael continued with the lessons on his own. When he was eighteen, his schooling, especially in Maths, earned him a place as an undergraduate in the University of Nottingham. He made some lasting friends, graduated with a BSc in 1954 and completed a PhD in 1958.


After a short period working in London, he came to Northern Ireland to lecture in the Department of Engineering and Maths at Queen’s University Belfast. The Professor of the department was Adrian Roberts, who also had Yorkshire roots, and they became, as well as being colleagues, life-long friends. Michael remained in the Department of Engineering and Maths – where he became a Reader – up to the time of his retirement.


One of his specialisations was Control Theory. Many of his academic papers were co-written with research students, whom he always acknowledged. It was gratifying to hear one of those research students, who is now a Professor of Control Theory at an English university, say that another five of Michael’s research students were now in Professorships, and that he was a powerhouse of ideas – and great fun.


He kept in touch with his Nottingham University friends and their children, as he did with his colleagues at Queen’s. He died in Lisburn Care Home on 11 January 2020, and the chapel at Roselawn Cemetery was filled to capacity with people he had known throughout his life – his extended family, neighbours, colleagues, Darts Club, Swimming Club, Table-tennis Club, and his drinking acquaintances from the Common Room. Michael’s only brother, Barry, died in a plane crash in 1971, and it was very touching that Michael’s two nephews and a niece were prepared to travel from Australia to attend his funeral. The coffin was carried by friends to the strains of the pipes of Reverend Angus Adamson, who also gave the address. Dr Ferdinand Jonsson read two poems in Icelandic and their English translation, and Michael’s daughter, Kate, spoke with affection about the minus and plus of being his only child.


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