Remembering Dez          

On Wednesday, November 24, 2010, Desmond Saunders-Newton, affectionately known as Dez, left this world. A tragic loss for all who knew him, a dear friend and mentor to so many, a husband, a father, a brother, a son, and so much more... Our hearts are heavy. Dez left his one-of-a-kind impression all over the world, with his brilliant mind, his warm heart and his contagious smile. Please share here how Dez left his impression on your heart, mind and soul with stories, pictures, memories, and thoughts, along with your prayers for his family, his wife Clarissa, his son Mounir, and his daughter Ayiana.

In support of Dez's most precious legacy, the Saunders-Newton Fund has been created for the current and future education of Mounir and Ayiana. Please visit to find out how you can help.
Thursday, February 20, 2020 10:57 PM
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Total Entries: 115   Entries Viewed Per Page: 50 [1] 2 3
Name Comments
115) Carina 
Wednesday, December 21, 2016 05:51 PM Write a comment

Wow, lovely site. Thnx ...
114) Renee 
New Orleans
Wednesday, January 27, 2016 06:13 PM Write a comment

Des dude I miss you so much. So much has happened that I needed your advice on, your mentoring and coaching. I love you.
113) Elizabeth Morris 
van nuts ca
Tuesday, February 3, 2015 02:08 AM Write a comment

This is going to be a little weird I did not know des but my best friend Susan Radcliffe vasile knew him and just lit up talking about him and how he impacted her life. Well Susan passed away and I know that she is with Des and laughing with him because that is one that would put laughter in her. She has been very upset about his passing. Thank you for allowing me to pass this message.
Susan Radcliffe Vasile was my best friend and I will miss her dearly, and because I know Des in a way by the way she looked up to him. RIP YOU TWO! Your friend. God bless you. Liz
112) Annette Duberry 
Odenton, MD
Monday, October 15, 2012 02:11 PM Write a comment

I am so saddend to hear about this untimely death of a great man and ex co-worker. Dez and I worked together at NDU, 1999 - 2001. Stayed in touch but not often. I had been sending him, updates on my young adults. I believe our last FB transmission was around the end of 2009. Dez, RIP and know that you still have the hearts of some many family and friends.
111) Aaron Frank 
United States
Thursday, November 24, 2011 05:09 PM Write a comment

I can't believe it's been a year since Dez passed. I posted a small remembrance on my blog earlier today to mark the time.

110) K Renee Horton 
Baton Rouge, La
Saturday, November 19, 2011 07:37 AM Write a comment


I never wrote before because it made me so sad. Today I saw your picture and all the times we talked and hung out came rushing back along with the tears. I miss you man. I graduated and you weren't there but Apriel was. I finally got rid of thug love three years later.

Damn I thought I could write you without crying but the years are just flowing and my heart hurts as if it was yesterday. I miss talking to you, I miss your insight and your spin on life. Man I miss you.
109) Jocelyn Millender 
moreno valley
Thursday, August 4, 2011 11:32 PM Write a comment

I want to say sorry to my second oldest sister. this is ur baby sister.i hope u r holding it together.
108) Tamii (Burks) Whitworth 
Hooks, Texas
Sunday, July 24, 2011 02:14 PM Write a comment

(108) I am saddened today to hear of my great friends passing. We attended school in Ashdown, Ar before my brother and I moved to Texarkana. Dez was always incouraging others. A light in a very dark world. I want his children to know that they are his legacy and they too can and will accomplish all that their father did not get the opportunity to finish. I love you Dez and thank you for your friendship all those many years ago. You helped me be the person I am today.
107) Tracey Weisler 
Washington, D.C.
Monday, July 18, 2011 03:14 PM Write a comment

I met Dez when we served on the Alumni Board of the IPPS program (now the Ford School) at the University of Michigan in the late 1980's. Though my years at U of M are mostly a blur of faces and names, Desmond was a person who stood out clearly, due to his friendly exuberance, his strong commitment to teaching and his passion for public policy work. He was a very bright light, and I was deeply saddened to learn of his passing this past fall. My condolences to all who loved him.
106) Mike Lippitz 
Riverwoods, IL
Sunday, June 26, 2011 08:07 AM Write a comment

(106) Wow. I discovered this news when my email to Dez yesterday bounced. I was finally getting around to continuing a correspondance that had dropped off in October 2009, just after he left BAE. He wrote, "I look forward to conversing in the not too distant future" about Research, Innovation and Intelligence, but that did not happen in time.

I keep my email Inbox pretty clean, but that 2009 note from him stayed at the bottom to this day, more than a year older than the next oldest unfinished business stored there. Dez and I overlapped briefly in OSD and on occassion while he was at DARPA and BAE, but the richness and warmth of our interactions put him in that special category of people you don't get to see that often, due to geography and lack of consistent professional hooks, but with whom one never wants to lose touch. I never wanted to move that email too far out of my consciousness, to remind me to make time to reconnect next time I was in DC. I wrote to him yesterday about a new research project that I knew he would find interesting and where even a brief conversation with him would advance my thinking in deep and fresh ways. Sigh....

I never connected with Dez in CA to meet the remarkable family about whom he always beemed. My consolences to all who had the priviledge to be in his inner circles, to interact regularly with this remarkable man, in mind, in heart and in spirit.
105) Joey Henderson 
Tampa, FL (Ashdown, AR)
Saturday, June 11, 2011 01:09 AM Write a comment

Desmond, the focus and passion you had for your research will one day point back to your humble beginnings in Ashdown, AR.

I recall many evenings hanging out under one of the few street lights we had in the neighborhood, talking about pursuing excellence, becoming more than what was expected of us (especially as African American males from a small town with a big heart), family, love, life and, yes, even belting out in an occasional song with my twin Joe, Cousin Bobby and some of the other fellows who enjoyed crooning.

You, Joe Ed, Olivia and I had a friendship that embraced a friendly competition that pushed each of us towards academic excellence and achievement. We dared each other to do more and be more; and you, my friend, excelled beyond that! Thank you for being a part of my life.

Rest in Peace, we'll see you on the other side & many blessings to your family.
104) Doug Samuelson 
Sunday, May 15, 2011 07:25 PM Write a comment

(104) Like so many who have posted here, I found Dez' intellect impressive and his charm delightful, and I deeply regret that we didn't have more time together. Most of all, though, as I remember the time I introduced him to Michael Fehling and they got to talking about jazz (Michael was and is a most accomplished jazz musician in addition to his eminence as a cognitive scientist), I wish Dez had taken Michael up on his invitation, "Bring your horn next time and we'll jam!" I'm betting Dez' sax riffs were as good as his verbal ones, and I'd have paid good money to hear that session. Maybe Gabriel needed a sax player. RIP, friend.
103) Aaron Brown 
Seattle, Waswhington
Wednesday, May 4, 2011 06:38 PM Write a comment

(103) D. Newton.

Man,I thought you would live forever; your spirit will. The Ann Arbor years will always seem like just yesterday given how much learning we did and fun we had. Thanks for your example. We will keep your family in our thoughts.

Aaron & Gina Brown
102) Angie Smithmier Eilers 
MInneapolis Minnesota
Friday, April 22, 2011 07:52 PM Write a comment

Dez/Desmond...I remember you fondly from college at Lawrence University and was saddened to read in the alum magazine about your, friend. My heart is with your wife and children.
101) susan radcliffe-vasile 
n. hollywood
Wednesday, April 13, 2011 05:23 PM Write a comment

dez..i wanted to add to my previous comment. you were a guiding angel when i was at rand. your spirit..your love of the human condition always brought out the best in me. your mentorship was gentle yet direct. i could always count on your advise and encouragement when trying to achieve some academic goal i had in mind. i remember so fondly when you and clarrisa joined me in santa fe to go horse back riding. that memory always brings me laughter..fondness and complete love. prayers are constant for you and your precious children. please be at the knowledge that dez is somwhere with The Master..with his radiant smile and his cogent understandings..and i just know that the world became a better place becausev of dez. rest now my brother..and i know in my silent prayers at the end of the day..i will think of you and i will smile. loving you forever..susan
100) Megan Isaac 
Burlington, NC
Saturday, April 2, 2011 05:52 PM Write a comment

The arrival of my college alumni magazine each month is usually a pleasure. But not today with its news of Desmond's death several months ago. Des was a kind friend to me in my first two years of college at Lawrence--his generosity and humor helped me find my feet. His example taught me to think bigger and to fear less. Several years later I had the pleasure of seeing him again several times when he was at RAND and I was at graduate school in Los Angeles. I was so impressed that he had hyphenated his name when he married. He's still the only male friend I've ever had with the selflessness to take that route. My sympathies to his family--his warmth and energy were a tribute to you, the people he made his life with, as well as to himself.
99) susan radcliffe-vasile 
n. hollywood
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 05:14 PM Write a comment

i'm hurt. i'm in pain. i don't know how to deal with my emotions about my dear dez. he was a spiritual inspiration to me and he is more than a hero to many.

i will miss and forever remember his memory.
98) Glenys Babcock 
Toronto, Canada
Saturday, March 5, 2011 11:59 AM Write a comment

Tears pouring as I write. I just found out -- and cannot believe -- my dear, dear crazy old friend is gone. Dizzy D. Endless debating of the big life issues. One-upping. Talkin trash. He thinks he always won. Maybe he did. I couldn't keep up once Dez got on a profound poetic roll.

No one challenged me to be honest with myself more directly than Dez. He'd just raise an eyebrow and I'd start retracting.

So many many memories. Good friend and coach that he was... he once came over to my place at 7 in the morning to help me change a flat tire. He coached from the sidelines while I squirmed under the vehicle. Dez get dirty? Not likely. But willing to help :)

Cliche though it is, I am a better person because of my friend, Dizzy D.
97) Lisa Muller Johnson 
Deerfield, IL
Sunday, February 20, 2011 10:33 PM Write a comment

It was my first night at Lawrence University as a shy freshman and I was very nervous waiting for my assigned "computer date" to pick me up. In swept Dez and he immediately put me at ease! I always remember that night with such fondness. I was so very lucky to have known him at Lawrence. I can see from everything people have written here that he continued to put people at ease and care for others throughout his life. I was so disappointed that he didn't make it to the reunion this summer as I was very much looking forward to reconnecting with him. I was stunned to hear of his passing- it is a huge loss for us all. My sincere condolences to all his family and friends.
96) Afshaan Shafi 
The Hague, The Netherlands
Sunday, February 20, 2011 10:41 AM Write a comment

Dear Dez, I'm so sorry to hear that you are gone from this earth. You were a smiling face in a sometimes cruel world. You were a kind soul, who truly cared about everyone you met. You touched many lives, including mine & Alia's. We are so happy that you, Clarissa & Mounir came to visit us in our home in Delft, and are just so sorry that we didn't reciprocate by coming to visit you & meet your beautiful little girl. I will always remember you as a warm, loving, similing, honest, God-fearing, wonderful man. Rest in peace.

To Desmond's family: My heart goes out to you. May God grant you the strength & fortitude to face this huge loss. Our heartfelt condolences & very best wishes go to you.

With warm regards,
Afshaan (& Alia)
95) Camille Harris 
Miami, FL
Thursday, February 3, 2011 10:03 AM Write a comment

Desmond left people and places better than he found them. I am honored to say I am better for having met him!

;o) Thursday, February 17, 2011 03:22 AM
That means a lot, because I am better for having met the wonderful and talented Camille Harris.
94) Sandi Smith 
Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, February 2, 2011 01:50 PM Write a comment

I received the January 13, 2011 issue of RAND Items and could not believe that Desmond had passed away. I remember him from my early days at RAND while working in the Travel Accounting department, and how Desmond made me laugh when I would contact him about his expense report submissions, sometimes I would call him just so that I could hear his comments and we would laugh together. He certainly left a lasting impression. My heart is heavy and so sad to hear of his passing, he had so much to give. To his family, I am so sorry for your loss, our loss.
93) Anonymous 
los angeles
Saturday, January 29, 2011 06:42 PM Write a comment

The most visible creators are those artists whose medium is life itself.
The ones who express the inexpressible -
without brush, hammer, clay, or guitar.
They neither paint nor sculpt.
Their medium is simply being.
Whatever their presence touches has increased life.
They see, but don't have to draw.
They are the artists of being alive.
92) Greg Treverton 
Santa Monica, CA
Friday, January 14, 2011 11:10 AM Write a comment

All the messages say it too, too right: Dez was something very special. I never remember him not bubbling with energy, with ideas, with kindness. It was as though he knew there was too much to do and too little time to do it. It is so, so sad that he was more right than he knew. The world cannot afford to lose the likes of him, for they are very, very scarce.
91) Angela 
Los Angeles
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 10:04 AM Write a comment

(91) Always a delight to see walking the hallways. I remember when Dez got married he was confused about how to hyphenate the name change. Too funny
90) Jennifer Hawes-Dawson 
RAND Santa Monica
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 07:58 PM Write a comment

Dez, my friend, we met when you were a graduate student at RAND. I remember your contagious smile, your warm spirit and encouraging words as you strolled thru the halls of RAND. Your presence just seemed to lighten up any room. Mr. Personality was my private nickname for you (smiles).

You had a "good run" and in the process touched many souls along the way. RIP. Your friend, JENNIFER
89) Kim Kimble 
RAND Santa Monica
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 07:38 PM Write a comment were one of the 1st people to welcome...really welcome me to RAND. As you know...I'm still here. Desmond...thank you for touching my heart.

To Dez family...'he's not gone...he's just at rest. We loved him but, GOD loved him best. May peace be with you.

88) Diana Spencer 
Santa Monica
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 07:16 PM Write a comment

Some of us at RAND just learned of Dez transition. I met Dez years ago in the old RAND building when he was a PRGS Student. He has such a Warm Spirit and was always offering ecouraging words. He was so instrumental in supporting our first grass roots lunch time Black History presentation. He has left some wonderful foot prints to follow. When I think about Desmond now I'm reminded of my favorite poem that I often share by Maya Angelou:
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Desmond was a jewel and I am sure he is sitting at the feet of the master discussing how he can still change things down here.
RIP my friend.
87) Caryn 
Silver Spring, Maryland
Monday, January 3, 2011 04:22 PM Write a comment

Dez instantly befriended me, holding my hand and encouraging me with humor and candor to push, no …annihilate the envelope. I remember his brilliance and humility but am most thankful for his friendship.
86) Kelcy Allwein 
Alexandria VA
Wednesday, December 29, 2010 04:37 PM Write a comment

There's not much that I can add to the wonderful words of testimony about Dez. I met him when we were trying to bring enlightened thinking into defense intelligence. Dez had such grace and humor; he could deal easily with the roughest dinosaur brains and the most anti of hard core physical scientists in his pursuit of computational social science. I will miss his warm smile and that vibrant love of life that just exuded even in writing.

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85) Adnan Rahman 
Haarlem, Netherlands
Friday, December 24, 2010 06:57 PM Write a comment

I knew Desmond from graduate school. With some help from the Eagles, Dez I hope you are listening, you checked out, but you won't leave our hearts. Adnan
84) Aaron Frank 
Fairfax, VA
Thursday, December 23, 2010 04:43 PM Write a comment

For those in the Washington, DC area:

There will be a memorial celebration of Dez's life on January 8th, 2011 at the Ralph Bunche Center at Howard University starting a 1:00pm. Please feel welcome to attend.

The Bunche Center is located at 2218 Sixth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20059.
83) Beth Flores 
Arlington, VA
Saturday, December 18, 2010 07:09 PM Write a comment

Are we there yet? These are the words Dez chose to kick off our ICAP week. In a week - a mere week - he proceeded to make me laugh, cry, question, keep the beat with my feet under the table, look to the future, and, in his words "challenge my personal trajectory." He was a colorful, bold, beautiful, and musical scientist, poet, inventor, inspirer. He will be missed. My heart goes out to his family and friends who had the pleasure of knowing him longer.
82) Claudio Cioffi-Revilla 
George Mason U.,Washington, DC
Thursday, December 16, 2010 06:39 AM Write a comment

Dez was a remarkable visionary who will long be remembered for his leadership and inspirational role in the emerging field of Computational Social Science. His premature departure leaves many of us with a sense of great loss, but should also serve as inspiration for pursuing ambitious scientific goals--just as was his great creative style. He was a national asset that contributed greatly to the advancement of social science and national security. He will not be forgotten and the community will acknowledge and honor his legacy.
81) Njema Frazier 
Washington, DC
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 12:12 PM Write a comment

(81) I still can't believe it... Such a loss. Such a loss of brilliance, humor, honesty, and dedication is just hard to fathom. I will miss my friend. There was no one like him.
80) Amber Rutland Jangha ICAP 2009 
Silver Spring, MD
Tuesday, December 14, 2010 01:12 PM Write a comment

Dez was a brilliant light in this world, encouraging all of us within his network, with both laughter and frankness, to be "co-conspirators." Our critical mission: to promote and advance your light and the lights of others to shine brighter, longer, and more brilliantly. Let's keep conspiring, in honor and memory of Dez!
79) Julie Fischer 
Alexandria, VA
Monday, December 13, 2010 04:27 PM Write a comment

I met Dez the first day of our fellowships, where he stood out even among so many other bright and driven people for his unique blend of brilliance, energy, and a delicate lightness to his piercing wit for which English seems to lack appropriate words. "Whimsy" seems too precious and doesn't capture his sharpness, "cleverness" doesn't encompass enough, maybe "finesse" in existence in general? Whatever that trait is, Dez stored and radiated it outward, as capable of tossing out a brilliant theory as a wickedly funny observation, sometimes all in the same breath. He transcended EVERYTHING, not just traditional boundaries (science versus creativity, etc.), but always gave the impression that the world had permission to be something altogether different now that he had entered the room.
78) Peggy Kuhn 
Arlington, VA
Monday, December 13, 2010 02:10 PM Write a comment

Gone way too soon .... Desmond was one of the first people that I met at Ann Arbor in the fall of 1985. Over these many years, he made me laugh with his humor, stretched my mind with his great intellect, and amazed me with his energy, including his seeming need for only 4 hours of sleep a day. I extend my deepest sympathy to Clarissa, Mounir and Ayiana on the loss of someone so special to them. My prayers are with you.
77) Jim Olson 
Alexandria, VA
Saturday, December 11, 2010 05:34 PM Write a comment

Hi Dez!

Though I've only known you a few short years and have seen you infrequently, you have inspired me. I admire your intellect, wit, and unwavering positive attitude, and try--usually without success--to follow your example.

While your departure will be deeply felt, it is clear from the thoughts expressed by everyone here that you have touched and inspired so many others. Rather than leaving a vacuum, you have endowed a legacy.

I know that I'll never listen to jazz again without thinking of you.

Aloha and best wishes on your latest adventure!
--Jim Olson
76) Aziza Baccouche 
Washington, DC
Friday, December 10, 2010 05:28 AM Write a comment

I know your contageous laughter and smile will sorely be missed, Dez. God bless you and may He surround your wife and children with angels now and always.
75) Lloyd Hall 
Ithaca NY
Thursday, December 9, 2010 08:32 PM Write a comment

I first met Dez when I tried to recruit him to attend Colby College in Maine. Imagine my surprise when he showed up on the list of students interviewing me when I began my work at Lawrence. We became good friends. Staying in touch over the past 20 plus years has not always been consistent,but reconnecting was always good. I have lost a friend and will pray for him and the family he loved so much. Lloyd
74) Florence Jinadu 
Arlington VA
Thursday, December 9, 2010 02:26 PM Write a comment

I only met Dez a few times, and each time was struck by his effervescent personality, wicked sense of humor, and infectious smile. There was never a dull moment when Dez was around and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to know him. Rest in peace....
73) Charlie Newhall 
Salem, MA
Thursday, December 9, 2010 01:24 PM Write a comment

I met Dez my freshman year at Lawrence and was immediately impressed with his energy and positive outlook. He was out to change the world and was going to bring us all along! We were ready to go! Though we corresponded only a few times by email in recent years, I hold him up as a mentor and inspiration. An advocate for social justice and an intellect of the first order, Dez helped us learn to listen to each other and build community with genuine relationships. Thank you Dez.
72) Steve Miller 
Fort Wayne, IN
Thursday, December 9, 2010 08:48 AM Write a comment

Dez lived on my same dorm-room floor freshman year, so I knew him from the get-go of college. My recollection of him then is that, while the rest of us seemed to be enjoying the social aspects of college to excess, Dez seemed to have bigger fish to fry. Not that he wasn't a very friendly and approachable guy, but he seemed to already know intellectually where he wanted to go and how to get the most out of his education. In reading about what he accomplished in his life, it sounds like he certainly did. My sincere condolences to his family and close friends.
71) Robert Pope 
Orange County, CA
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 09:17 PM Write a comment

Dez was a wonderful man. He was absolutely brilliant... one of the most intelligent people I have ever met in my life.

As a freshman on campus at Lawrence I was privileged to perform with him in the Chamber Singers. He, like no other, went to great lengths to make sure that I was comfortable being a part of such a talented group of performers. He was so generous with his caring, so well spoken, and a constant joy to be around.

I believe there is no problem in the world greater than Dez's capacity to determine and implement a brilliant solution. Our loss of Dez is immense... it is the loss of possibility of what he had to contribute to this planet in the decades to follow.

My heart goes out to Dez's family, friends, and those who worked with him. I can't even imagine what a wonderful husband and father he must have been.
70) Michael W. Lind 
Madison, WI
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 06:01 PM Write a comment

I met Dez at Lawrence, and, although we were not close friends, his is one of those names - one of those faces - from the past that is so easily conjured up by the mention of Lawrence. He was charismatic presence on campus, a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. The world is a poorer place without him and he will be missed. My condolences to all of Dez's family and friends. You are in my thoughts.
69) Raymond J. Ramsey 
San Francisco, California
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 05:46 PM Write a comment

I am still in disbelief. I met Dez as a freshman at Lawrence University. Dez was a junior and was my big brother on campus. I was immediately impressed by his quick wit and brilliance. His mind worked like nothing I had ever witnessed before. He loved life. I mean he really loved life and I don't recall a single time he ever displayed anything but that huge smile. There were few African-American students on the LU campus in those days and Dez taught us all how to navigate and survive by recognizing individuals not race. I followed his career achievements and took great inspiration from him. I have no doubt he is seated at the right hand of our Father smiling down on his family. My prayers are with his wife and children. Your husband and father was a remarkable person.
68) Mel Spence 
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 05:43 PM Write a comment

Dez was an extraordinary person. His legacy will live on through the countless number of lives that he has touched. My thoughts and prayers are with Dez and his family.
67) Charlene 
Washington, DC
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 10:48 AM Write a comment

Though I only crossed paths with Dez a few times, he was one of those rare people whose personality and presence made a long-lasting impression. His enthusiasm and infectious smile were inspiring and contagious, and his support and encouragement were much appreciated. He will be sorely missed!
66) Kyle Davis 
San Marino, CA
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 12:40 AM Write a comment

Wow, Dez. I barely knew ye, and yet we were like old friends. I've never met anyone who so effortlessly moved between such disparate worlds. And still you remained quintessentially you. I miss you already, Brotha. You were a gem, and the world is less without you.
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