Prominent Montgomery businessman dies at 87

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The next time you take a drive on Interstates 85 or 65, take a moment to think about how those roads came to be.

Billy Newell, who died Saturday at age 87, had a hand in the construction.

His efforts paved the way for commerce and transportation.  He even has a portion of I-65 named after him.

"That was his first interstate project, and it was really an honor for him," said Keith Newell, Billy's son.

You may have seen Newell's sign on that same stretch of interstate.  It reads," Go to church or the Devil will get you!"

Newell was a deeply religious man who loved Sunday school and sharing the faith.

"He really liked it. 'Go to church or the devil will get you.' He thought that was the way we should be," Keith Newell explained.

It wasn't all roads for the contractor.  Newell also developed neighborhoods like Wynlakes, Deer Creek, and Towne Lake--not to mention many more businesses.

"You never had any idea where Billy Newell might be during his career, because he was working somewhere everyday," said Charles Jinright, president of the Montgomery City Council.

Don't forget his home on Bell Road--and the animal kingdom right outside, stocked with deer, bison, and goats.

"It's something that someone would take the time and the money to make a place like this for the people of Montgomery to come by and see on a daily basis," said Jared Shipp of Montgomery.

It's just one way to give back.  Again.

"He enjoyed people. He just loved to be around people," Keith Newell explained.

Newell also served in the Navy and helped found First Montgomery Bank (which became Aliant Bank).

Family members say he died from heart problems and complications from a stroke he suffered years ago.

Newell was 87 years old.

Visitation will take place Monday, September 21st, at Alabama Heritage Funeral Home from 5:00PM-7:00PM.  His memorial service will be held Tuesday, September 22nd, at Ridgecrest Baptist Church at 11:30AM.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Ridgecrest Baptist Church.

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