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.
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Name Comments
65) Holly Russo 
Falls Church, VA
Tuesday, December 7, 2010 11:33 PM Write a comment

Wow, I cannot believe he is gone. He had such a life force. I hope he's in a better place now, and that everyone there appreciates his wit and intellect and fire as much as we did here.
64) Stephen Edwards 
Los Angeles, CAS
Tuesday, December 7, 2010 04:50 PM Write a comment

Wow - still reeling from the news of the loss of my friend Dez. We first met at Lawrence University in the early 80s - and even then he was a tornado of energy and passion that was completely infectious. Then I couldn't shake this guy! We both loved music (he played sax, I played piano in the jazz band) and were both very social at school. Then I graduate and move back to Ann Arbor and he follows me there! He's in the Public Policy school at UM and I'm working on my master's in Music - so we hang out in Ann Arbor at jazz clubs, etc. Then I decide to move to LA and what does he do? He follows me out there as well! He meets beautiful Clarissa and gets married. I even wrote an original piano piece for the wedding and they walked down the aisle to it. We stayed in touch over the years and always had inspired and lively conversations - such a great guy! Such a loss for his family, the community, the world! A shining million-megawatt light taken from us way too soon! Rest in peace Dez!
63) Heather Callahan-Stevens 
Alexandria, VA
Tuesday, December 7, 2010 11:12 AM Write a comment

I'm still reeling, can't put my thoughts and pain into any kind of fitting tribute to my dear friend. I have to try to not acknowledge the looming, overwhelming sadness just to get through my day. One of these days I'll have the luxury to really feel it, and maybe then I'll be able to express how I feel.

Until then, for those of us who were not able to attend Dez's funeral today, Christophe and I are going to the Crystal City Mortons at 6, where we will raise glasses and have some "flesh" in rememberance of Dez. I might even bite my tongue about the lobsters.

Well, probably not, but that always made him laugh anyway.
62) Steven Bankes 
Tuesday, December 7, 2010 06:27 AM Write a comment

Transitive Closure

Dez and I had many common interests: complexity science, identity theory, social network theory, computational policy analysis, and social computation. But, where I have been focused on computation, it was Dez who was social. Dez was a super-connector, a node with high centrality. It seemed at times that Dez knew everyone, and everyone knew Dez. A movable party, he raised the energy level everywhere he went. For Dez, social theory and social practice went hand in hand.

Through his research, his public service, his business activity, and his relationships, Dez changed the world in many ways. Contributions to this memorial site provide testimony to the impact Dez had with so many of us. Dez provided an example of a life of accomplishment led with grace and humor. He was a potent antidote to anxieties and neuroses that burden us all. He was a living manifestation of “take it as it comes”. Dez also assisted through counsel and mentoring. He was a font of career guidance, business intelligence, and relationship counseling. Because of Dez, I now say the word “sanguine” much more frequently.

Each of us carries a piece of Dez within us. And this recalls the metaphor of a person’s life as a pebble thrown in a pond, causing ripples that propagate to places beyond our knowing. But this metaphor misleads, as waves pass by and then are gone. Rather, I entertain a fractal model of our lives. Social systems involve agents and networks. Individuals contain many identities, and I contain a few I acquired from Dez. Ecosystems include both forests and trees.

The great woodsman has felled one of my favorite trees. But through the spririt of the forest, Dez lives on.
61) Marypat Meuli 
Seattle, WA
Monday, December 6, 2010 02:18 PM Write a comment

I am very saddened to hear of Desmond's passing, and appreciate so much getting to know him at Lawrence. My sympathies to his family and the many, many people to whom he made a difference. You will be sorely missed, my friend.
60) Merle Lefkoff 
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Monday, December 6, 2010 01:09 PM Write a comment

Rembering Dez.

Marrying extraordinary intellect and energy and profound passion for social change, that was Dez.

Dez put his passion for social change into the world. I remember he said to me, “the end game for social scientists is better solutions for the hard social problems.” As a navigator through the stormy waters of a new and still emerging science, he began with a question: what is the relationship between complexity science and policy analysis?

“Hey Merle. How goes life?” That’s how all my e-mails from Dez began. And he meant it! He was both curious and compassionate with all his friends and colleagues. We had an unusual relationship for many years, this white grandmother from the South and this young black man from—everywhere! I taught at Morehouse College in Atlanta in the sixties at the height of the Civil Rights movement to put myself through graduate school, and that’s what really brought Dez and me together, exploring the thicket of racism in America.

And so we shared two passions: for social justice and for the possibility of the application of science to the art of peace building. What I have lost, and more importantly what the world has lost with Dez’s passing is immeasurable and incomprehensible to me. I never met his wife and children, whom he adored, but I wish for them solace in this time and weep with them along with all the people in the world whom Dez touched in exquisite ways. He left a lasting footprint on this earth. We will forever be grateful for the time he spent with us, and damn!we’re going to miss him

Merle Lefkoff
Santa Fe, New Mexico
59) Jeff 
Monday, December 6, 2010 09:27 AM Write a comment

Is there a link to an obituary? Would like to know more.
58) Brinille Eliane Ellis 
Northern Virginia
Sunday, December 5, 2010 06:30 PM Write a comment

Dez, You had a unique mixture of brilliance, wit, humor and humility. Thank you for sharing your talents and enriching the lives of so many.

To your family, I express my sincere condolences. Many you know that Dez will always be a special person and an inspiration to so many.
57) Jumoke Hodari 
Chicago, IL
Sunday, December 5, 2010 03:58 PM Write a comment

May God bless Desmond's family... He will be missed... Rest in peace Desmond.
56) Rachel Schmidt 
Takoma Park, MD
Saturday, December 4, 2010 07:29 AM Write a comment

Dez and I attended grad school together at RAND where we were teaching assistants for the Sloan summer program. We're also both from the sticks--Dez from Arkansas and I'm from West Virginia. He had such a gift for putting all kinds of people at ease. For example, Dez was incredibly encouraging to students who were feeling unsure about what path to take in their education and whether they could fit in at a policy school. But without missing a beat, Dez could also hold sway with heavy academic types. One of my favorite Dez stories comes from a time we went to lunch in grad school. Dez told me that a key test he had before deciding whether he could seriously date someone (this was before meeting Clarissa) was whether she ate ribs with her fingers or not. If she tried to use a fork and knife, forget it, she's too pretentious. At the time I was considering whether or not my (now) husband and I should get married, so I went home and watched carefully how he ate ribs! God gave Dez an outsized portion of humanity and intellectual curiosity, and I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to become his friend. I hope that all of us help his children remember what a gift Dez has been to us.
55) Larry Roszman 
Bethesda, Maryland
Friday, December 3, 2010 09:37 PM Write a comment

Tipping a martini,
Joe Henderson in the background,
Practicing the craft:
Sorry we missed a final connection.
54) Alisa, Fernando & Mateo Diez 
South Pasadena, CA
Friday, December 3, 2010 04:36 PM Write a comment

(54) Our hearts and prayers are with Clarissa, Mounir and Ayiana...and all who loved Dez. Dez, may your journey be a peaceful one and may you know that you are loved and missed and that we will all surround your family with love and support. Your love will always bless them and you will always be with them.
Love, prayers and blessings,
The Diez Family
53) George Cybenko 
Friday, December 3, 2010 04:24 PM Write a comment

Dez, you were always a bright light for me. We miss you!
52) Dr. Renaisa Anthony 
Friday, December 3, 2010 12:04 PM Write a comment

(52) I'm still in disbelief. Dez...your mentorship, insight and friendship will never be forgotten. May you live forever in our thoughts and memories. Rest in peace my friend.
51) JC Herz 
Alexandria VA
Friday, December 3, 2010 11:51 AM Write a comment

(51) It seems unreal that Dez is gone, given his vitality - even when jet-lagged he seemed fairly bursting with energy. We all treasure memories of specific things he said, nuggets of wit and wisdom that left us all feeling smarter, wiser, and less burdened by the world, or by some vexing problem of the day. But beyond that, what lingers is the memory of his voice - those distinctive cadences, the jazz-like swing and nimbleness of phrase that was pure Dez. The way laughter seemed permanently on the verge of bubbling up and through his sentences when he was on a roll. Even when there was exasperation in the lyrics, there was joy in the music; and this infectious joy brought every conversation to a higher level. We were fortunate to play in these duets, in these jams, with one of the greats, even the loquacious among us ceding to him the solos because he was That Good.

That magnificent instrument lies still and will not sound again, to our great grief. But the music that was Dez will echo in our ears and in our hearts and voices as we remember a brilliant song cut short.

Apriel Friday, December 3, 2010 01:17 PM

Mary Anne Doyle Sunday, December 5, 2010 01:23 PM
Many, many thanks JC! A tribute worthy of the elegance and poetry that was Dez.
50) Sabrina Akins 
Woodbridge/Arlington VA
Friday, December 3, 2010 08:40 AM Write a comment

While I only got to know Dez for 2 years during my time at BAE, he was one of several folks who made me feel at home, and contributed to those years being amongst the best of my professional life.

In addition, it was great to have a fellow SF/Fan reading geek, who knew some comics, with whom I could discourse about how Hollywood had just screwed up the canon.

The world has lost a bright light far too soon. My thoughts & prayers are with his family & friends. Dez, you will be missed. Blessed Be.
49) vickie 
los angeles, california
Thursday, December 2, 2010 08:01 PM Write a comment

(49) gone but not forgotten, love you little cousin
48) AJ Heid 
Stafford VA
Thursday, December 2, 2010 06:31 PM Write a comment

I was Dez security officer in Arlington, VA....he would always stop by and we would tell jokes and talk about LA where I grew up. He was always smiling and making everyone else laugh. Our loss is God's gain. My prayers with the family. He was truly a great man!
47) Tom Chesnutt 
Encinitas CA
Thursday, December 2, 2010 04:58 PM Write a comment

Dez lit the room with his intellect, humor, and loving-kindness. He set a high bar for always giving more than he took. I'm going to miss him bad. -Tom
46) Phil Barry 
Burke, VA
Thursday, December 2, 2010 12:23 PM Write a comment

I met Dez at DDR&E. We had a talk about various topics while we waited for a meeting and one of which was psychohistory. When I got back to my office there was an e-mail from Dez with a URL from a psychohistory page. Thus began a friendship with a truly unique individual. Over the years I would see Dez not as frequently as I would have liked. The conversations were always fun, filled with laughter and intellectually stimulating. My prayers go to his family. He was a treasure and will be missed.
45) Apriel Hodari 
Hampton, VA
Thursday, December 2, 2010 07:49 AM Write a comment

a bold and unreasonable portion

no passionate poem on fairness was ever written
no rationing song was ever sung

artists know His touch, His spirit, His voice
is a bold and unreasonable bounty to bear

to speak and act on a fest of an idea,
is not an economical nature;
knowing what I don’t know
that I can’t know

what is an abundant blessing to him
what is salvation for her
or why you forced my soul to light
like the side of a fish

it is a bold and unreasonable portion

rsh November 2010

I can’t take credit for these lovely words; they are my talented sister’s insert for her holiday cards ... her wish for our bounty and abundance in the new year. But when I read them, I think that Dez was our bold and unreasonable portion: of wit and wisdom; of love and encouragement. I can think of no better legacy for the wonderful human that he was, and that he saw in each of us, than for us to live bigger and richer, bolder, and more unreasonable.

KW Thursday, December 2, 2010 09:35 AM
that's beautiful. truly
44) Borany Penh 
Washington DC
Thursday, December 2, 2010 03:24 AM Write a comment

I met Dez at an ICAP gathering more than ten years ago. The network has continued to keep in touch and I met him again several times over the years. He was always so vibrant intellectually and humorously. He was also an activist in many important ways - for the betterment of disadvantaged groups, for new knowledge, for greater understanding between peoples. He was a gem of a human being who made a difference in the lives of others and in the world. My thoughts and prayers now go to his family.

Borany Penh
43) Crystal Jones 
Northampton, MA
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 04:11 PM Write a comment

I am blessed to have known Desmond - such a wonderful manifestation of God's love, intelligence, and humor. He will be surely, surely missed. Clarissa much love and strength to you.
42) Chrystal Perkins 
Hercules, CA
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 02:49 PM Write a comment

Desmond was a kind, sincere and honorable person. I am honored to say he was my friend. Another Soldier has passed over. My prayers go out to his wife, children, and remaining family members. May God Bless You
41) Laura Trejo 
Washington DC
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 02:10 PM Write a comment

I met Dez when I first attended ICAP in 2003. He had a big generous spirit and will be missed by his ICAP family. Dez will continue to live in our memories.

40) Keith Jackson 
Morgan State University
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 10:28 AM Write a comment

Dez was an over-powering intellect a beacon in a world of wave function and vector space. He had a down to earth respect academic scholarship and how to apply it to real world problems.
39) Bart Edes 
Manila, Philippines
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 09:57 AM Write a comment

Desmond, you brought so much positive energy to life, my friend. I wish you peace now, and share my condolences with your beloved family. -Bart (IPPS 1987)
38) Tom Arrison 
Arlington, Virginia
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 08:52 AM Write a comment

Desmond was my classmate at the U-M Ford School. We've lost a great friend and wonderful spirit. My thoughts and prayers are with Clarissa, Mounir and Ayiana.
37) Christophe 
Washington DC
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 06:41 AM Write a comment

Desmond Saunders Newton...Dez was a big brother to me and I will never forget him. Where I am today I owe to him. He always brought a smile to my face and helped push me to where I am today. will be missed
36) Pam Castleman 
Simi Valley, CA (Ashdown, AR)
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 09:55 PM Write a comment

Words can not begin to explain the depth of our loss. Desmond you were an awesome friend to everyone who knew you. Your zeal for life and passion for making the world a better place will be remembered by all. Your light will carry on within all the lives you touched, and we are all a little richer for knowing you.
35) Chris Brown ICAP 2009 
Washington, DC
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 09:31 PM Write a comment

A true inspiration of character, intellect, and personality. You will be truly missed, but your kindness, words and teachings live on in the hearts and minds of those lives you've touched in your short time here on earth.

God Speed, Dez!
34) Robert Popp 
Boston, MA
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 09:27 PM Write a comment

Dez and I were both geo-commuters and roommates for almost 4 yrs in DC from 2002-2006 while I was at DARPA and Dez was my chief advisor on social science programs...he was a dear friend, they don't get any better...he was also an incredible thinker and philosopher, an eternal optimist, and a phenomenally caring and giving person...I've never met anyone so generous and willing to lend a hand to help a buddy with a problem, no matter what it was...he will be terribly missed!!!
33) Glenn Nofsinger 
Honolulu, HI
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 08:32 PM Write a comment

Dez found humor in most every situation, brought fun and energy to even to most routine office meeting. Working with him was never a dull experience - and his impact on all he met will continue.
32) Carolyn Cobb 
Lawndale, California
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 06:05 PM Write a comment

At times like these and when you receive the news, your breath is literally taken away. My fondest memories are of Dez, William, Daryl, Steven impersonating Tina & Ike Turner singing at my 50th birthday. That really took courage!!! I truly appreciate the friendship you shared not only with me, but my son. How awesome we met at church, how loving we worshipped, sang and praised God together. We often needed a dictionary to understand your words (smile) but the God that gave you that marvelous mind will not need a dictionary to understand your words of gratefulness for a life well spent and lived. Prayers to all those who are left behind to fight the good fight for a little while longer. God Bless
31) Dawn Therrien 
Ramstein Air Base, Germany
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 02:55 PM Write a comment

My heart immediately began to hurt when I received this very sad and unexpected news about Dez. On a long car drive home from Prague this weekend, my husband and I talked about my time at BAE and the ‘characters’ I had the pleasure to work with in Arlington. Upon meeting Dez, one of the first things I recognized was his ability to make people immediately ‘feel at home’. He did it with such ease and grace. What I really loved about Dez was that he always seemed to ‘do the right thing’. He was honest and kind, goofy funny and supportive, big-hearted and super-smart too. My deepest sympathies are sent across many miles to his family during this extremely difficult time. I’m so very sorry that this world lost Dez but I feel strongly that his spirit will live on in spectacular ways here on earth.
30) Lori Elkins Parault 
Ashdown, AR
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 01:30 PM Write a comment

My thoughts and prayers are with the family of someone I was proud to have known. Desmond remains the perfect example of what one can be and can accomplish regardless of what many would consider to be restrictions. Desmond left small-town, rural Arkansas and made his mark on the world. He will be remembered and sorely missed. Rest in peace, Desmond. This world was a better place because of your presence in it, I find it unimaginable that Heaven isn't brighter by your presence there.
29) Uduak Essien ICAP 2010 
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 10:50 AM Write a comment

I first met Des at the ICAP mid year reunion in 2008. I met the fun and crazy side of Des before I met the intellectual brainiac side. I got a huge dose of his intellectual aptitude just recently in Aspen and thought how a rare a person who could blend those two sides together and be approachable and loving. I had so many plans to stay in contact with Des over the years for many reasons including my respect for his uniqueness. I will never forget Des. His shoes will be very difficult to fill. I pray for his family during this time and know that his legacy is a gift that will bless them as it has blessed all of us.
28) Mark Lazaroff 
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 10:26 AM Write a comment

(28) This picture is one of many images that many of Dez's associates and friends will remember. This one came from a meeting at Big Meadows Lodge on Skyline Drive VA. I'm not "copastetic" with the loss of such a strong personality. Dez was a people magnet and will be missed.
27) "Tina Monique" James ICAP 2009 
Nairobi, Kenya
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 08:35 AM Write a comment

(27) Such Rapier Wit, Keen Intelligence, Polished Statesman Acumen, wry glib cheek, contained within a compact frame!!!!! Despite all you shared, I feel as if we had only scratched the surface of your Fount of Wisdom. Brother, Thanks for Your Contribution…, Peace & Love!
26) Chris Diehl 
Berkeley, CA
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 12:48 AM Write a comment

I had the good fortune to serve on a DARPA study panel about five years ago with Dez. His brilliance, energy and creativity were immediately evident. I loved all the time we spent together then and during meetings thereafter. Thanks to Facebook, we got to continue the witty banter from afar.

I was shocked and saddened to hear of his passing this morning. It is far too early to be saying goodbye. Dez, you clearly touched the lives of so many and will be sorely missed.
25) Joe Hurd ICAP 2004 
Silver Spring, MD
Monday, November 29, 2010 11:40 PM Write a comment

Dear Members of Dez' biological and extended family. I am without the words to express my sorrow. Like many of you, I first met Dez through one of the many organizations that he was proud to support, ICAP. He left a lasting impression on me, as he no doubt did you, and I couldn't help but be impressed by his passion and energy. He was all about community, and we need to remember that. We are part of a community. Each person we help, each person we inspire, makes us collectively stronger. Dez practiced that, and that's what I will remember. Blessings to all.
24) Megan Woo 
Washington, D.C
Monday, November 29, 2010 10:19 PM Write a comment

There are no words to explain what you did to everyone in your presence ... "Just being you"
23) Ramesh Bapat 
Texas and Arizona
Monday, November 29, 2010 07:55 PM Write a comment

I first met Dez at AAAS. It was at the orientation for the new batch of Science & Technology Policy Fellows (2000-2001 batch)in the AAAS Building- First week of Sept.2000.

Dez was very brilliant with great sense of humor.
What a loss for the policy world in his passing.
May his soul rest in peace.

Ramesh Bapat
22) Eric Clemons 
Baltimore, MD
Monday, November 29, 2010 05:48 PM Write a comment

Dez was and remains one of the single greatest forces in my life. I will always love him and cherish one of our favorite mottos: Two small-town Arkansas boys in the big city, making our families proud!
21) Vera de Vera 
Los Angeles, CA
Monday, November 29, 2010 05:36 PM Write a comment

My heart is heavy with the loss of our dear friend Desmond. Prayers and condolences to Clarissa and the kids for the loss of her husband/their father. Desmond, you were instrumental in developing and keeping alive the Sloan/APPAM/WoodyWoo/PPIA network both locally and nationally. Many of us have benefitted from your guidance, wisdom and friendship-- our fond memories with you will always bring a smile to our face and a chuckle to our guts! :) Somehow I just remembered one funny moment as I walked up to Vince and Dave's apt. in west L.A. for a CoMPP meeting, and instead of walking in late to a meeting, I stepped into a loud dance party with you leading the chant "Free Rick James!" to his song, "You and I." Lucky are those in heaven who know get to benefit from your spirit, wisdom and infectious sense of humor. Rest in peace dear Desmond.
20) Trina Coleman 
Washington, DC
Monday, November 29, 2010 04:25 PM Write a comment

Dez will always be remembered by all in some unique way; I know we all have funny anecdotes that end with "Dez, you need your head examined!!" Love and miss you

Trina Coleman Tuesday, December 7, 2010 08:32 AM
I have been constantly evaluating the feelings that I am having about the loss of Dez. I am perplexed by the fact that my sense of mourning is filled with so many smiles. Conclusion: I am by no means happy that he is gone, but I'm happy that he was happy when he was here.
19) Woody Spring 
San Diego
Monday, November 29, 2010 04:12 PM Write a comment

You were one of the easiest people to like immediately that I ever met. Your cheery nature, zest for life, wonderful intellect and obvious joy in meeting and working with people was contageous and beautiful.
Thank you for sharing yourself with us; even for such a short time. You will be missed!
18) Margo Malakoff 
Monday, November 29, 2010 04:00 PM Write a comment

(18) I found this photo of Dez from the AAAS 2000-2001 end of year party. Dez's humour and love of life touched all those around him.
17) Cathy Zanbaka 
Atlanta, GA
Monday, November 29, 2010 03:08 PM Write a comment

Dez, the picture posted on this site of you is how everyone will always remember you: a huge radiating smile. I have never known you to be down, always positive, always an optimist, and always a dreamer, no matter what life throws at you. The greatest thing you taught me is to let it be, and things will work out, nothing is worth the worry  I consider myself lucky to have known you, even for a short while. I will never forget you. I will keep your family in my prayers and thoughts. You will be missed…
16) Jackie Fields 
Doha Qatar
Monday, November 29, 2010 01:27 PM Write a comment

Dez - you are a special soul who blessed all those that were fortunate to meet you! You will be missed!
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