Steven M. Newman
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Steven M. Newman (born May 31, 1954) is an American world trekker, public speaker, freelance writer, author, and adjunct professor. From April 1983 to April 1987, he walked solo around the world and became popularly known as “The Worldwalker.” The author or co-author of three books, he has given over 2,300 speeches to universities, schools, churches, companies, and other groups. The longest hiking trail in Ohio’s state park system, the Steven Newman Worldwalker Perimeter Trail, has been permanently renamed after him, and he has been honored with that state’s highest award, as well as with a doctorate in humanities. In 2012 he signed his third multiyear shoe and sportswear endorsement contract that will pay him royalties until he reaches the age of 70 with the company Aqua Two.
Newman was born in the village of Bethel, Ohio, to Bethel native Edwin Newman, who is of English and Scottish descent, and Mary Kennedy from Buffalo, New York, who is of Irish descent. His father, a salesman, met Mary, a nurse, when they chanced upon each other in an elevator at the University of Cincinnati. Mary was at that time a nurse for the singer Lena Horne. They married and lived in Bethel until Steven’s birth, at which time they moved to Florida for several years before returning to Bethel.
Steven lived in Titusville, Florida and Jacksonville, Florida until the finish of the fourth grade. His parents moved back to Ohio then, and he attended public schools in Bethel through grade 12. In high school he became well known for his ultra-long running feats and was given the nickname of “Bebe” (after a famous Kenyan marathoner of that time). He also took the opportunity during those years to hitchhike (without his parents’ permission) to several distant points across the USA. He graduated with a BS in Journalism from Ohio University in 1972. While at OU, he ran cross country, was successful in orienteering, participated in the ROTC program for three years, and took many English classes. He paid his way through college by working each summer as a uranium prospector in the wilds of Wyoming’s Red Desert. His boss was former Republican congressman John Wold, and the project Newman worked on (often alone with only his red collie Charley as a companion) was highly experimental in nature and shrouded in some secrecy.
Within a few months of graduating from Ohio University, Newman started working (at $150 a week) as a reporter for the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper. After a couple years he quit the newspaper (now at a salary of around $180 a week) to pursue freelance writing and to prepare for a goal he had had since he was nine: a walk around the world, documenting his encounters with the various cultures. After five years of prep that included strenuous hikes and camping in the West, saving $25,000 from roustabouting on small drilling rigs, poring over hundreds of topographical maps in the Casper, Wyoming and New York City, New York public libraries, and visiting embassies in Washington, DC, he returned to Bethel to begin what would eventually be officially recognized as the first documented solo walk around the world.
Steven’s first book advance (for Letters From Steven) was for $500. His next three book advances (including the paperback version of one of his two other books) would each be for six figures. The most popular of his books, Worldwalk, was published internationally and selected as a Main Selection for America’s oldest and most prestigious book club. His walk around the world was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records and led to thousands of speech invitations and many honors. A one-hour documentary about the Worldwalk was done by film director Brian Doubleday and shown on several PBS stations across the USA.
In the years since his solo backpacking trek around the world, Newman has walked the lengths of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. His exploits have also resulted in sponsor-paid trips to other nations such as China, where in 2012 he visited 14 cities, lectured at China’s most prestigious university (Peking University), and signed a 12-year endorsement contract. Another company in Japan also markets apparel with Newman’s name and well-known stickman logo on them.
Presently Newman does extensive traveling to other parts of the world (including, in Bolivia in 2012, a hike the length of the Choro Trail and a wild mountain bike ride with a book fan, Julian Cook, down the “Road of Death”). He and his wife, Darci, reside on nearly 25 acres along the Ohio River on a heavily forested hillside known as Worldwalker Hill.
- Steven Newman. Worldwalk 2012 Kindle Edition. ISBN 0-688-07762-5
- Steven Newman. Letters from Steven. 1987. ISBN 0-941678-09-1