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Dylan Newman, 18, remembered for ‘bright smile and warm personality’

Dylan Newman, a recent Southold High School graduate whose fighting spirit and courage inspired so many around him as he underwent treatment for a rare bone cancer, died Tuesday evening while surrounded by family. He was 18.

Southold High School principal Terence Rusch sent a letter to the Southold school community Wednesday morning to share the “heartbreaking news.”

“Dylan is more than a student and alumnus of Southold Junior-Senior High School,” Mr. Rusch wrote. “He is a son, brother, grandson, friend and teammate. Dylan represents the unwavering support of the Southold community, whose bright smile and warm personality enjoined the entire North Fork, time and time again.”

Community members are encouraged to wear green in the upcoming days in celebration of Dylan’s life. Many on social media began to post profile pictures of Dylan’s baseball No. 5 in green lettering Tuesday evening as the devastating news began to circulate. The “Team Dylan” mantra became a rallying cry across the North Fork since Dylan began undergoing treatments.

Mr. Rusch said support staff will be available for students and the auditorium has been designated a safe place where students can “seek support, remember and celebrate Dylan.”

“In the difficult days and weeks to come, I encourage you to remember Dylan’s spirit and share those memories closest to your heart,” the principal said.

Dylan was first diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in 2018. A passionate baseball player, Dylan played for the Southold varsity team this past spring, even while undergoing a third round of treatment. The Southold and Mattituck teams held a fundraiser for Dylan during a non-league game at Jean W. Cochran Park last May, one of many events community members have organized over the past four years to support Dylan and his family.

Dylan Newman with his father, Todd, his sister, Kelsey, and his mother, Tanya, outside Southold High School in June 2019. (Credit: Mahreen Khan)

Each time Dylan stepped into the batter’s box that day, he received a thunderous ovation. Afterward, teammates and opponents spoke about Dylan’s perseverance and commitment to the game he loved.

Dylan’s father, Todd, said after that game: “I just want to thank the community for everything they do. Everything.”

The Suffolk Times honored Dylan as its 2021 Sports Person of the Year after he returned to the Southold baseball team, two years after he began treatments. He was also a member of the school’s basketball team, working his way up from a manager position this past year to playing on the court as he regained strength.

Dylan was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma after he endured pain in his hip while playing baseball during his eighth-grade season. He soon underwent the first round of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his pelvis and fibula in July of 2018.

Community members held a “Team Dylan North Fork Parade” in Greenport to raise funds for the Newman family in November 2020. (Credit: Jeremy Garretson)

Doctors determined he was in remission following a 53-week chemotherapy regimen. But in October of 2020, it was announced that Dylan was dealing with a recurrence of the disease and wearing a backpack that continually administers medicine through a port, The Suffolk Times previously reported.

Dylan was a graduating member of Southold’s Class of 2022 and had his sights set on attending college at SUNY/Oneonta.

Southold High School will hold its homecoming this weekend and alumni in the area are encouraged to visit the school and “be surrounded by their Southold family,” Mr. Rusch said.

Dylan is survived by his parents, Todd and Tanya, and sister, Kelsey.

The family will receive friends on Monday, Sept. 26 from 2-7 p.m. at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Southold. Funeral services will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 10:30 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Southold. Interment will follow at Southold Presbyterian Cemetery, behind the church.