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Dennis Newstead Posted: October 1, 2015

A Dream Shifting Shape

Just two days before his death, Dennis Newstead was planning a grand adventure.

Newstead, 93, was scheduled to be a recipient of NorthBay Hospice & Bereavement's Dream of a Lifetime program. He was about to go to one of his favorite cities in the world: San Francisco. The former musician and printer wanted to feel the excitement and stimulation of the art and restaurant scene in North Beach.

"San Francisco is a wonderful, 'come-and-look at-me' city," he said, his eyes sparkling with excitement during a conversation at the care home in Vacaville where he was staying. "It has everything one would desire: wonderful restaurants, theaters and interesting people. It's a city that invites you to enjoy it and I enjoy it."

His dream included a few hours at Vesuvio, long a classic watering hole for artists and musicians. He also wanted to dine at the restaurant called the Stinking Rose. "I hear they season the garlic with garlic there," the London-born Newstead joked. He also made jokes with his family about the trip. "He told us 'you can grab me from the grave for this,' " said his daughter, Stacey Arden. "He really wanted it."

Newstead had also hoped his son, Dave, could enjoy the outing, but economically, it simply wasn't possible. However, thanks to an extra donation at the last minute by "dream maker" Stanley Davis, a Foundation board member, Dave was flown in so he could join his father and Newstead's beloved wife, Jane, as well as Dennis Newstead's daughters, Annie and Stacey.

Unfortunately, it was a dream destined not to happen.

"It's strange because now, looking back, there was something distant in his eyes the night before we were to go," said Stacey. "Then, that evening, he fell, and he died two days later."

"Mr. Newstead had such an incredible life and this dream was an indication of his adventurous spirit," said NorthBay Hospice & Bereavement volunteer coordinator, Veronica Wertz, who is in charge of the Dream of a Lifetime program. "We were amazed by his stories of living on sailboats and sharing the stage with famous guitarist Django Reinhardt in Paris. His zest for life, sense of humor and optimism really inspired us. It was a sad, 'hello/goodbye' experience for us."

Although the San Francisco portion of the dream was not realized, the family said it profoundly shifted shape in a way that was even more meaningful to them. "It was so worth it to have Dave here just before and after dad fell," said Stacey. "It was worth that 10 times over. I am so glad he was able to see our father and then to be with us after we knew Pops was dying. That would not have happened had it not been for the Dream of a Lifetime program absorbing the cost of his airline ticket. We are very grateful that Mr. Davis was so generous to us."

The family also expressed their appreciation to the Stinking Rose. When the restaurant manager found out that Newstead had fallen and was not able to come to their restaurant, they fixed a family meal anyway and sent it to Vacaville. "That gesture meant so much to us during such a hard time," said Stacey.

For now, as Dennis Newstead's family deals with the grief of losing him they're consoled by the fact that Newstead's last days were filled with enthusiasm and excitement about his dream.

NorthBay Hospice & Bereavement's Dream of a Lifetime program could not exist without the support of the community. If you would like to be a "dream maker" by donating money, time or services, click here.