‘Inspirational’ Rhys Lewis will not be forgottenBy Jon Nurse
July 19, 2012
Wokingham's oldest man who died two weeks ago aged 108 was remembered for his love of humanity at a service of thanksgiving.
Rhys Lewis had lived in Wokingham for 63 years, having seized university studies to move from a Welsh coal mine to become a history lecturer in Bracknell for more than two decades.
Friends and family gathered for his funeral at Easthampstead Park Crematorium on Friday morning.
His eldest son John, 70, said: “Father didn’t want much sombreness at his funeral. He was always very outgoing and friendly – he got on with everyone.
“Our family would like to thank his neighbours on Sewell Avenue for the tremendous help they gave him in his declining years. It’s incredible to think he lived independently for so long.”
His second son Peter said: “When he reached 100 he seemed to gain a new lease of life, both physically and mentally.
“Dad would have wished to have been here to meet everybody. He was a very social being with a love of humanity.”
Mr Lewis died at his home on Wednesday, July 4, with his full-time carer Emma, who had lived with him for two years, at his side.
His love of Wales was represented during the service, as Ieuan Jones gave a reading in Welsh and people exited to the Welsh National Anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, sung in Welsh by a male voice choir.
The country’s oldest Welshman was born in 1903 in the village of Llangennech.
He left school aged 13 and worked in a coal mine for 10 years where he saved his money to study history, geology and Welsh at Swansea University, before moving to Aberystwyth University and the London School of Economics.
He later moved to Wokingham, where he was the head of the history department at Easthampstead Park College of Education from 1949 to 1970, now known as Easthampstead Park Conference Centre.
After the service, the congregation moved to the conference centre, where a room is named in honour of Mr Lewis’s 21 years of work.
Maureen Baston, 70, was a pupil of Mr Lewis’s from 1959 to 1961.
She said: “He was an inspirational lecturer and it was a privilege to have known him. He had a tremendous joy for life and that came through in his teaching.”
His son John added: “He really enjoyed his time at college. He was well qualified, heavily read and all comments made to me by former students are that he was an excellent lecturer.
“Rhys has left the stage, but he will not be forgotten.”