A precious husband,
father, grandfather and great-grandfather
10th August 1921 – 22nd August 2009
Read at the Thanksgiving Service for his wonderful life
Llanishen Evangelical Church, Cardiff
Thursday 3rd September 2009
Jack Newberry – Our dad
Our father was a great man.
He was a real gentleman.
In the eyes of the world he was just a simple carpenter but to us he was a great man. It has been said that…in life we shall find many men that are great, and some that are good, but very few men that are both great and good. Our father was both.
He himself, of course, would never, ever have accepted such a description. He was a humble man; who lived simply and loved a lot. He didn’t have much, but he shared what he had with just about anyone who was in need. His sole aim in life was to be like Jesus. Today as we reflect on and celebrate his wonderful life we will see that he went some way to achieving his aim.
He was a great man because of the way he loved our mother. It is impossible to speak of our father without also speaking of our mother, because they were one. Together, they showed us what true love was like. They met in the dark days of World War Two in a dance hall in Cardiff, while he was home on leave from serving his country. God obviously brought them together and despite many difficulties and dangers their romance blossomed and as soon as they could, at the end of the war, they married. God blessed them with sixty three wonderful happy years, three children, eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren and each one adored this wonderful man. Every day of their married life dad tried to love our mum ‘as Christ loved the church’ totally… selflessly… and with all of his heart. Their love story is unique and is an inspiration to us all. They lived for each other and many lives, over many years, have been touched for good by this special couple.
He was a great man because of the role model he was for us his children. He was caring, hardworking and devoted to us. Dad loved us all much more than he loved himself. We never once doubted his love. He told us whenever he saw us.
When times were tough he would carry off-cuts of wood home from the building sites on the handlebars of his bike to help keep our home warm and his cry of…’Dad’s home’ would bring us running to greet him at the side door of our house. On a Friday he would have Wagon Wheels or some other kind of treat hidden somewhere on him and we would have such fun finding them. They were our treasures given from his heart of gold.
Our childhoods were idyllic. We played in the garden, the street and the local woods, building dams and catching fish and at the end of each day we came home to his strong but gentle arms. He helped us realize our dreams, forgave us our mistakes and loved us whatever. We never needed to earn his love and affection…he gave it freely and in generous amounts. On the edge of a £2 coin are the words ‘Standing on the shoulders of giants’, a phrase attributed to Sir Isaac Newton as he paid tribute to the work of those who had gone before him; as his children, if we are able to achieve anything in life its because we have been standing on the shoulders of a giant…our dad.
He was a great man because of his relationship with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He had a wonderful way of developing a unique relationship with each one. He took an interest in everything each one did, whether it was hearing about things that happened in school or insisting we put the phone near so he could hear them practice the piano or the double bass and even after they had grown up, he listened attentively to tales of travelling or job interviews or promotions. Each one remembers him for the funny little signs of affection, whether it was a funny handshake or a ruffle of the hair. Each had special names for him such as ‘guv’ and ‘silly old fool’ and ‘Goozer’. He danced with them in their happy times, cried alongside them in their sad times, but was always the rock on which they could depend.
He was a great man because of the way he served his country. It was the part of his life he rarely shared with anybody. Dad was 18 years old on 10th August 1939 and war was declared on 3rd September 1939 and he received his call up papers the following day. On 6th June 1944 during the first hours of D-Day, our father was parachuted into Normandy near the site of Pegasus Bridge, as he served our country helping to liberate Europe. He went on to serve in Holland, Belgium, The Rhine and as the war ended, as he was looking forward to being with his beloved Phyll, he was posted to Palestine for a tour of duty. This lasted almost a year.
He returned to Normandy with his family in June 2004 to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the D-Day landings and was overwhelmed by the welcome and the gratitude he and all the other veterans received from the French people for helping to free their country from the tyranny of oppression. He was awarded a commemorative medal by the people of Normandy. He was proud of it, but kept it at home in a box and never showed it off. Although his poor health prevented him from attending the recent 65th Anniversary Celebrations, he was represented by family members and was awarded a special bar to attach to the medal he received in 2004.
He was a great man because of his devotion to his church. Dad became a Christian in 1949. He had been invited to a big tent meeting, which was held where the Millennium Stadium is today. He had been invited by his friend Bill Dobbs and in the days that followed our mum took the same decision to follow Christ. Since that time, both their lives have been devoted to following the Lord and working as part of the local church. In the early days of his Christian walk, he would spend every Saturday working with the Cardiff Tract Band and he and his friends would visit valley towns and share with them through leaflets and open air services the Good News that Jesus can make a difference and he knew the difference for himself.
Soon after they moved to Llanishen in 1952 they helped to organize a mission in a big tent. It was on the site we are all sitting now. Following the mission a green corrugated hut was purchased and dad with a group of local Christians dismantled it in Bedlinog in the valleys and rebuilt it here in Llanishen. When the chapel opened, Dad was given the job of welcoming people on the door; a job he was ideally suited to with his warm smile and firm handshake. Amazingly it was a job he did until he was called home… more than 56 years of unbroken service. What an example to the generations that followed! During that time he must have welcomed countless thousands of people. He treated everyone the same… strangers, friends, young or old it made no difference…..each one received a handshake, a smile and a word of welcome and encouragement. When we all get to heaven you can be sure hovering near the entrance will be our dad, smiling, hand extended ready to welcome us in and tell us how good things are inside.
Dad and mum ran Boys and Girls Youth meetings in the evenings; teaching children and young people many different craft skills and sharing with them the truths of the Bible. They made their home available to the young people of the church and week after week on a Sunday evening their home would be filled with youngsters, chatting, singing and drinking endless cups of tea. One of the young men actually came to live with us – this selfless act of love showed the devotion dad and mum had to their church and their God.
When the current building was erected in 1956 dad did his bit to help and his carpentry skills were put to good use not only during the building of the church but throughout the 50 years that followed, doing odd jobs and repairs. He loved this place with a passion; whether it was Llanishen Gospel Hall, Emmaus Chapel or Llanishen Evangelical Church. He loved it because it was God’s house and his main aim in life was to serve the God he loved. He never preached a sermon, never sought high office; never pushed himself forward but just simply understood the truth of Psalm 84 v 10…
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live a good life in the homes of the wicked.
He knew the jobs that God had entrusted to him and he did the best he could every day of his life.
He was a great man because we never heard anyone speak ill of our father. It’s common at a funeral to only remember the good things, to omit the things that could embarrass. In our father’s case, the most remarkable thing that can be said is that there is no bad.
It may or may not be true that the traffic is moving a little quicker around the north Cardiff area these days, yes…we all agree that he may have been a slow and careful driver, but the truth is dad never had an accident, never had a speeding ticket or even a parking ticket in over seventy years of driving.
Sometimes it took him over an hour to walk the short distance to buy his morning paper, because when he met someone he always stopped and talked with them and he was always interested in what they had to say. He was loved by everyone in the small community where he lived. Many of them are here with us this morning.
Our father had a heart for people. He was greatly loved and will be greatly missed by us his family, his fellow believers here in Llanishen and across Cardiff and also by his many friends and neighbours. His passing will leave a huge hole in the lives of all who knew and loved him. For us, the family chain has been broken, but we have the wonderful hope that dad is the first link in a new chain in heaven and one by one as we join him that new chain will link up.
We don’t like to say good-bye to those we love. But if what the Bible says about heaven is true, and we believe it is, then the ultimate prayer, the ultimate answered prayer, is heaven.
It is right for us to weep, but there is no need for us to despair. Dad had pain here. He has no pain there. He struggled here. He has no struggles there. We might wonder why God took him home. Dad doesn’t! He understands. He is, at this very moment, at peace in the presence of God.
If we’d had the chance to listen carefully on 22nd August, as we shed those tears of grief, we would have heard the still small voice of God saying to our father ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.’
He is gone.
We can shed tears that he is gone
or we can smile because he has lived.
We can close our eyes and pray that he’ll come back
or we can open our eyes and see all that he’s left for us to remember.
Our hearts can be empty because we can’t see him
or they can be full of the love we shared together.
We can turn our back on tomorrow and live for yesterday
or we can be happy for tomorrow because of our yesterdays.
We can remember him and only that he’s gone
or we can cherish his memory and let it live on.
We can cry and close our minds, be empty and turn our backs
or we can do what he would want:
Open our eyes,
Love each other…
…and go on.
Notice that appeared in The South Wales Echo
Friday 28th and Monday 31st August 2009
John Newberry (Jack)
Suddenly on 22nd August 2009 Jack, adored husband of Phyll, precious dad of John, Roger and Joy, dearest father in law of Chris, Jean and Doug, treasured grampy of Lisa, Helen, Kate, Jason, Gareth, Keri, Bethany, Simon, Tamara, Mark, Emily, Paul and Amy. Grampy Newbs to Jack, Noah, Reuben, Ben, Zac and baby Newberry to be. Loved also by Russ and Alex.
A Thanksgiving Service to celebrate his wonderful life will be held at Llanishen Evangelical Church (Emmaus Chapel), Heol Merlin, on Thursday 3rd September at 11.00 a.m. Afterwards at Thornhill Cemetery. Family flowers only please but donations in lieu to Echoes of Service, c/o Mr. A. Berry, 13, Hurford Place, Cyncoed Cardiff.
No black ties please.
At home with His Lord