It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Berwyn Emrys Jones, 82, who died at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska on February 26, 2020. Berwyn was actively involved in many Welsh cultural activities and will be deeply missed by the Welsh-American community. He was known to his many friends on both sides of the Atlantic through his attendance at the North American Festival Wales, Cwrs Cymraeg, and the National Eisteddfod in Wales.
Born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and raised in Lincoln, Berwyn was the grandson of Welsh immigrants who settled and farmed land near Wymore, Nebraska and where his father, Emrys Jones, grew up. He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1954, earned a BA in Chemistry at Nebraska Wesleyan University, then received his PhD in Chemistry from Kansas State University in 1962. After teaching at Monmouth College, Upper Iowa University, and Longwood University, he joined the U.S, Geological Survey in 1978 in Atlanta Georgia. He moved to Evergreen Colorado in 1985 and continued to work for the USGS until his retirement in 1999.
While in Evergreen he was a member of the vestry of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration and with his first wife, Sue Jones, began the Evergreen Welsh Choir. He was a member of the Studebaker club and he lovingly restored a 1953 Studebaker, his pride and joy.
After the death of his first wife, he married Martha Davies, a fellow member of National Welsh-American Foundation, and moved back home to Lincoln. He served on the Board of Trustees of the Welsh National Gymanfa Ganu Association, and was a member of the North America Wales Foundation and Undeb Cymru a’r Byd (Wales International). In addition, he is listed as a Friend of the National Library of Wales. In 2004 Berwyn and his second wife, Martha Davies, joined the board of directors of the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project in Wymore, the only cultural center, museum and archive dedicated to the history of Welsh settlers on the Great Plains. Through their many Welsh contacts and organizations, Berwyn and Martha brought the project national and international recognition, making it one of North America’s most celebrated Welsh heritage sites. In 2010, both were recognized with the North America Wales Foundation Heritage Medallion for this work. Berwyn served as President of the Board of the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project for 11 years and remained on the board until his passing.
In 2017, Berwyn appeared in Pobl y Paith/People of the Prairie: The Welsh in Nebraska, a mini-documentary produced by the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project to celebrate the Nebraska Sesquicentennial. In the film, Berwyn recounts the story of his grandparents’ immigration from Wales and shares fond memories of his Welsh-speaking grandfather. He also discusses his father’s service in the US Army Signal Corps in the First World War. Berwyn was very proud of his upbringing and heritage and shared these memories with his many friends in the Welsh community. Pobl y Paith was broadcast on Nebraska public television in Nebraska and can be viewed online at welsheritageproject.org.
In Lincoln he served on the Vestry of the St. Mark’s on the Campus Episcopal Church. He was a fine musician, singing in Welsh and church choirs, and was always willing to play his beloved trumpet for Easter Services. He remained a stalwart Democrat throughout his life.
Berwyn was preceded in death by his first wife and the mother of his children, Janet Sue Hall, and his second wife, Martha Davies. He is survived by a sister, Sara Gadeken of Denver Colorado, two loving sons, Roderick Hall Jones of Loganville, Georgia, and Bruce Gordon Jones of Lawrenceville, Georgia, seven grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. His memorial service will be held at St. Mark’s on the Campus Episcopal Church in Lincoln at a later date.
Memorial donations may be to the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project, PO Box 253, Wymore, NE 68466 USA.
Heddwch i’w lwch. May he rest in peace.