Honoring Idaho Registered Dietitian: Shirley Ann Newcomb 1923 – 2016


This year, the Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is honoring Idaho Registered Dietitians who are the Food and Nutrition Leaders in the communities they serve. Registered Dietitians work in a variety of settings including health promotion organizations, public health programs, medical facilities, businesses and educational institutions. Along with dietetics, most of these Registered Dietitians are also community leaders where they live, volunteering in their communities and serving in leadership roles.

Today and next week, we will be honoring one of those Dietitians who has had a significant impact on the field of dietetics as well as her community. This Idaho Registered Dietitian is Shirley Ann Newcomb, who was not only a Dietitian, but a Home Economics Professor, Dietetics Director, Student Advisor, Nutrition Leader, and an Active Community Member.


Shirley was born on June 30th, 1923 in Cambridge, Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1943 with a Bachelors in Science in Nutrition.  Her dietetic career started off with working as a Research Dietitian at Boston City Hospital and as a Dietitian at New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. She then went on to teach Home Economics in Cambridge, Nebraska.

In 1949, Shirley was recruited to teach home economics at the University of Idaho by Margaret Ritchie who at that time was leading the University of Idaho home economics. Shirley promised Margaret that she would work for 2 years, but then ended up teaching a additional 38 years and earning a Master’s degree in Home Economics from the University in 1951.  Her thesis was “A Study of the Content and Sequence of Institution Management Courses at the University of Idaho.”

While at the University of Idaho, Ms. Newcomb was responsible for establishing the Consortium Coordinated Program in Dietetics, which for 15 years was sponsored by the University of Idaho and Eastern Washington University. The first junior class was admitted to the Consortium Coordinated Program in the Fall of 1976 and is still going strong to this day (side note: since 1991, the program has been solely sponsored by the University of Idaho).

Along with being a Professor and Advisor, Shirley was also an active member of the Idaho Dietetic Association, which is now the Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Dietetic Association, now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. While as Idaho Dietetic Association member, Shirley held several leadership positions, which included:

  • President, 1953-1955
  • Secretary, 1958-1959
  • President, 1961-1962
  • Treasurer, 1962
  • Idaho State Delegate, 1967-1971

As a member, Shirley also represented the Idaho Dietetic Association three years on the USDA National Advisory Board on Child Nutrition.  Shirley also served on several committees for the American Dietetic Association, which included:

  • National Committee for Revision of Handbook, 1967-1969
  • National Committee on By-Laws Handbook, 1968-1969
  • Membership Committee, 1969-1972
  • Member Coordinating Cabinet, 1971-1973
  • Nominating Committee, 1975

Along with teaching and serving on several organization boards and committees, Shirley was a dynamic member in her community by writing food and nutrition articles for the Argonaut and the Idahonian, being a guest speaker at a variety of organization events and serving as a member on the Idaho State Nutrition Advisory Committee. Shirley was also a charter member of the Margaret Ritchie Distinguished Speaker Committee.

Due to her service, Shirley was presented several awards including the June Yerrington Award by the Idaho Dietetic Association. This award is given to an Idaho Dietitian who has contributed to the Idaho Academy in a significant way during his or her professional career as well as made a significant impact in his or her community and has earned respect from within the community. During her dietetic career, Shirley was also awarded:

  • Phi Upsilon Omicron – Home Economics Honorary
  • University of Idaho Alumni Award for Faculty Excellence
  • University of Idaho Home Economics Alumna Award of the Year
  • University of Nebraska Distinguished Alumna Award
  • The Idaho Treasure Award
  • The School of Family and Consumer Sciences Centennial Award 
  • The University of Idaho College of Agricultural & Life Sciences Dean’s Achievement Award

Shirley Newcomb, was not only an amazing Dietitian, Professor, and Leader, but she was also an advocate for her students who cherished her as advisor and mentor. Next week, we will hear from these students as well as peers who were impacted by her work.  

Stay tuned….

  1. Professor Shirley Ann Newcomb (1923 – 2016 Obituary) 
  2. University of Idaho B.S. Food & Nutrition: Dietetics Program 
  3.  Latah County Historical Society. (2015). Legendary Locals of Moscow, Idaho. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing 


To learn more about the Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and how you can join, please visit eatrightidaho.org.

To find an Idaho Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in your area, please click here

*Posted by Rachelle Ausman, RDN, LD, CHC (Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Social Media Chair)
This entry was posted in Idaho RDNs and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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