Joel (Jay) Donovan Hart
Joel (Jay) Donovan Hart, 76, of Newton passed away Sunday, November 17, 2019 at his home in Newton, Illinois.

Funeral services celebrating Jay's life will be held at 10:00 am Saturday, November 23, 2019 at the First Baptist Church, Newton, with Rev. Steve Willis officiating. Visitation will be from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., Friday, November 22 at the First Baptist Church. Burial will be in the West Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Newton.

Born on August 15, 1943, in Robinson, Illinois, Jay was the son of Donovan and Norma (Hancock) Hart. He married Debbie Meinhart on July 9, 2011, and she survives. Jay graduated from Washington High School in Washington, Indiana, in 1961. He then graduated from Murray State College in 1965 with a bachelor's degree in English and history and later earned his master's degree in administration from Eastern Illinois University.

Jay began his teaching career in Pana, Illinois, in 1966. He continued teaching in Olney and Clinton, Illinois before being hired by Jasper County Community Unit 1 in 1975. He served as principal at Newton Central until 1994 when he became Assistant Superintendent for the district. He retired from JCCU 1 in 2003.

An avid golfer, he was a member of the original Jasper County Country Club for many years. He enjoyed watching Cardinals baseball and Fighting Illini basketball and football. He also loved attending the various activities of his grandchildren.

Jay will be loved and remembered by his son Lee (Mollie) Hart, Chicago, IL; daughter Brooke (Tyler) Krauss, Belleville, IL; and adopted sons Wyatt Hart, Overland, KS and Brady Hart, Springfield, MO. Also surviving are step-children Michelle Meinhart, London, England, and Ross (Jennifer) Meinhart, Newton; grandchildren Evan and Drew Hart and Lain and Dathan Krauss; step-grandchildren Max, Isabel, and Scarlett Meinhart; and sister Susan Wonder, Tampa, FL.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Alzheimer's Association.

Online condolences may be offered at
Published on November 18, 2019


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Showing 10 of 6 posts

Mike Ramage
Nov 29, 2019
Very sorry to hear this sad news. I haven’t seen Jay for a long time. But remember he was one of the nicest people in our high school Obviously Jay had a very important career as an educator. May God be with his family during these difficult times.
Barbara Yarbrough Slessinger
Nov 29, 2019
My deepest sympathy to you and family. My thoughts and prayers are with you .
Harriett (Hyatt) Hughes
Nov 28, 2019
I am so sorry to learn of Jay’s passing. I remember him as a classmate and friend. My sincere sympathy to his family.
Don McGillem
Nov 28, 2019
Just received information on Jay's passing. So Sorry to hear. I have always considered Jay as one of my good friends from way back in grade school. Jay was a great guy and will be missed. RIP Jay and prayers for your family and sister.
Charles Cisney
Nov 23, 2019
Jay was my principal at Newton Central Junior High back in 1976. He was a great guy.
Crain Funeral Home
Nov 18, 2019