Chapter 4-4 Membership and Service

Being a Cub or Scout Master, or Explorer Adviser involves working directly with the youth. While our children were of scouting age, I worked with them in the youth leadership capacities. I was David’s Scoutmaster and Explorer Adviser and Andrew’s Cub Master. At first, these positions were callings from my church. When I started receiving non-scouting callings such as being a member of the Bishopric, I turned my attention to adult leadership. The first was Scout Roundtable Commissioner. I choose two good strong scouters from the Church, Gene Simmons, and George Held to be my assistants. Our job was to train Scoutmasters and their assistants’ monthly, providing instructional programs and materials. We were often told that our programs were some of the best in the Council. We brought in speakers from the Department of Natural Resources, Park Rangers, Zoologists, etc. and kept a foot-locker full of every possible form needed, plus maps, pamphlets, etc. Later on, I became the Unit Commissioner for our Ward. This meant that I was responsible for staffing our scouting program in the Ward and making sure that annual chartering was completed and that the troop had necessary financial and supply resources. For many years, I was a member of both the Troop and Pack Committees. We provided transportation, refreshments, ideas, etc. My last position was that of the Dean of the Master’s Program of the College of Commissioner Science. This program provides advanced training for those holding one of the myriad commissioner positions. There are three degrees, bachelor, master, and doctorate. I had completed the master level and was asked to then head up the training program, hence the position of Dean.




In an earlier chapter I mentioned the International Festival, an annual Columbus event sponsored by UNICEF.  One of the booths was manned by the Welsh Society of Central Ohio (WSCO).  They were selling teacakes, distributing Welsh literature and recruiting new members.  

I decided to join the society.  It had originally been named the Welsh Singing Society of Columbus and its primary mission was to promote Welsh hymns.  This was done by hosting an annual Welsh religious service called a Gymanfa Ganu which in Welsh means “The People Sing Together.”  A short sermon is given and then for at least a couple of hours, the congregation sings hymns in Welsh and English. 

The Gymanfa Ganu originated in Wales.  In Wales, a great number of people were non-conformists which means they did not belong to the state church, the Church of England.  Instead they were mainly Welsh Congregationalists, Methodists, and Baptists.  Because singing is such an important part of life in Wales, each year these various congregations would join together for a hymn fest, the Gymanfa Ganu.  This custom was brought to America by Welsh immigrants and is very much alive today.  There are hundreds of Welsh societies in the U.S. and Canada and many of them sponsor a local Gymanfa, usually held in October.  In addition there is the Welsh National Gymanfa Ganu Association (WNGGA) which would host a Gymanfa in a different city in the U.S. or Canada each year.  A local society would take charge of the affair and would lobby the national to be a host.  This event which is attended by several thousand people always brings money into the local society’s treasury in addition to raising money for WNGGA.  As time went on, this event began to take on a different flavor and grew into a three-day festival which featured choirs from Wales, folk singers and other performers, vendors, workshops, and exhibits.  WNGGA changed its name in 2011 to the Welsh North American Association (WNAA) and the three-day festival is now called the North American Festival of Wales. 

WSCO bid to be a host for the National and was designated for 1998.  This took several years of planning.  We had to find a venue site (the Ohio Center), negotiate and book hotel rooms in downtown Columbus, invite performers including a choir (the Rhos Choir), Vendors contacted us and we had to make arrangements for an exhibition hall for vendors.  We printed tickets and programs, booked classrooms and lecture halls, made arrangements for tours of Columbus and other places in Ohio.  This meant booking bus service.  We had to make arrangements for banquet rooms and menus.  A three-day event for several thousand people can be a logistical nightmare.  We started taking reservations immediately following the prior-years festival which was held in Wilwaukee, Wisconsin.  Mary and I were the registrars  We had to develop a website for signup, receive and deposit checks, mail out confirmations and put together packets for participants.  These packets included event tickets, programs and other materials.  We were given a complimentary suite in the hotel which included a conference room.  Unfortunately, manning the registration tables was an around-the-clock ordeal.  It took at least a year to mentally recover from this and we swore we never be part of another National Gymanfa.  In a two-day time, Mary and I took in and had to bank over $600,000!  Mary only was able to attend one workshop – Welsh Gourmet Cooking.  I taught one workshop on Genealogy and attended a lecture by Sharon Kay Penman, a noted author of novels about medieval Britain.  We also attended the Friday night Nosen Lawen (an informal evening of entertainment), the late night imprompto sing-alongs, the Saturday Banquet, and of course the Sunday Gymanfa Ganu.  

To promote a National, the next-year city always does a presentation where they invite participants, put up posters, give out promotional material, etc.  Borden Company was headquartered in Columbus and donated a pallet of Cracker Jacks.  We needed this pallet brought from the hotel loading dock to the mezzanine so we could distribute the Cracker Jacks to participants.  The local Teamsters Union was in charge and wanted $200.00 for the delivery.  Our President, Mary Ellen Morgan (who is an attorney) took the union steward aside, slipped him $50 and the pallet magically appeared on the mezzanine!  

I had an incident happen while in Milwaukee.  Since there are many political figures invited to this event, it is not unusual to have mayors, governors, and congressmen from the host area in attendance.  In addition, dignitaries from Britain are  often there.  Dafydd Wigley (Baron Wigley) the Plaid Cymru representative to the English Parliment was there.  Plaid Cymru is the Welsh Nationalist Party.  We had men in the hotel that were obviously security personnel from the State Department and the local police were always visible.  I was in a meeting with Daffyd Wigley and several other WSCO members.  I had left my briefcase on a coffee table in the mezzanine, when a member of WSCO called me outside.  The bomb squad was getting ready to blow up my briefcase!  I recovered it and was lectured on not leaving unsecured luggage in a political hotspot or airport.

Over the years, I was very active in both WSCO and WNGGA.  In WSCO, I was on the Board of Directors, Treasurer for several years, booked and manned the booth at the International Festival and the Celtic Festival held at Rio Grande.  I was the National Auditor for WNGGA and would travel to WNGGA headquarters in Youngstown, Ohio each year to audit the books. In addition, I operated the WSCO store.  I imported merchandise from Wales and sold it at our various events.  

Rio Grande University is located in southern Ohio across the highway from the Bob Evans Farm.  Bob Evans, the founder of the Bob Evans Restaurants, lived here all of his life and the farm grew into a tourist attraction with a country store and restaurant, exhibit barns, a pioneer village, a canoe livery and a performance stage which was located next to his home.  Bob and I belonged to the Welsh Society of Central Ohio.  His home was on the Welsh Byway, a scenic route through old Welsh communities, including Rio Grande, Oak Hill. Jefferson Furnace and Gallipolis.  I used to sing on the stage on the farm there during  the annual Welsh Festival along with other members of WSCO.  Eventually, this was replaced by the Bob Evans Farm Festival with activities such  horse racing, tractor pulls, and farm exhibits.  The Welsh Festival was renamed the Celtic Festival and moved across the road to the Rio Grande University Campus.  Originally, this festival was held in the fields near the highway, but eventually moved to the University Commons.  I continued to perform there each year in addition to presenting various workshops during the festival such as “The Poetry of Dylan Thomas.”  I was also a guest lecturer at the University for the Madoc Center for Welsh Studies, presenting a series “Welsh History and Philosophy.”

During one of the Celtic Festivals, I was sitting in the tent pictured below when I heard a group of ladies screaming a couple of booths away.  I walked over to see what was wrong and a Copperhead snake was under their table.  Being the brave, but stupid macho guy that I am, I reached down and grabbed the snake behind the head with one hand and by the tail with the other.  I marched over to the fence behind the festival and tossed it into a field.  But,  I let go of the head before the tail.  It whipped around and sunk a fang into the knuckle of my right index finger, clear to the bone.  Ouch!  Well, suddenly my arm felt very cold and went numb all the way to the shoulder.  I headed up to the campus and found the nurse.  She told me I would probably be sick and would hurt for several days.  But, there was a big problem.  This was 3:00 and I was due on the stage at 8:00!  Fortunately, the feeling gradually came back in my arm and by 8:00, I was ready to go.  I never really got sick.  I imagine since the flesh is so thin on the knuckle, that he didn’t inject much venom.  However, I still have the scar on that knuckle as a reminder not to play with venomous snakes!

The Welsh Society of Central Ohio tent at the Celtic Festival, Rio Grande

 Rio Grande College and the Bob Evans Farm

For two years, the Welsh Society had a booth at the Renaissance Fair in Waynesville, Ohio where we sold Welsh Merchandise.  Gene Beard and I ran this booth and camped out at the festival.



My involvement in WSCO and my musical talent combined to present other opportunities. I taught lectures on Welsh Literature and Philosophy at Rio Grande University.  I was often a guest lecturer on Genealogy at many different organizations in Ohio and performed at Celtic festivals around the state.  I formed a folk group called Glodyrdd, singing Irish, Scottish and Welsh folk music.  This involvement was extensive including festivals in Cambridge Ohio, performing poetry and music for Robert Burns banquets, New Years Eve Cultural Events, and others.  I performed with other musicians in the Columbus area such as Ted Jordan and Debbie Norris, Larry Dulin from the General Guiness Band and the Irish Brigade.  I also sang with a WSCO musical group. 


 In Florida, Mary and I joined the Suncoast Welsh Society of Sarasota and the Welsh Society of Saint Petersburg.  We were given membership in the Saint Petersburg group by virtue of my performing for them at their Saint David’s Day banquet.  We receive the newsletter, but do not attend their meetings.  We do attend the functions of the Suncoast Welsh Society.  We attend the annual picnic and I usually provide some entertainment.  We also attend the annual business meeting.  I have been asked repeatedly to serve as an officer, but I have to many local commitments.  We have taken their annual Christmas light trolley tour.  We like the society, but their membership is radically different than that of WSCO.  The Suncoast Group serves alcohol at its functions, where WSCO never does.  We attend, even though we sometimes find the use uncomfortable.  This is why we no longer go on the trolley ride.

Radnor, Ohio organized a Heritage Society to preserve the Welsh culture in Radnor. I belong to that society and have performed at their annual picnics and have lectured at functions there. The society appreciates our input since it was our family that settled and named the town.They always have great roast lamb at the annual holiday party, furnished by one of the local sheep farms. The society furnished the funds to erect the gate into the Radnor cemetery, a duplicate of one from Radnorshire, Wales.

The Penry family is very prominent in the area and the largest industry in Radnor, the Penry Stone Company was family owned, but has since been sold to a conglomerate. My cousin Walter Penry owned a very large dairy farm in Radnor and was the Republican State Representative for Delaware County at one time. His grandson still owns the farm and we visit there occasionally. The Welsh language had died out by 1920, which was unfortunate. The mindset of the early settlers was to become American and banned the use of the Welsh language in schools. A child would be paddled if caught speaking Welsh. Because the Heritage Society recognized the fallacy of losing connections to one’s roots, they wanted to revitalize the language. I was asked to conduct a Gymanfa Ganu in the Radnor Congregational Church. The old Welsh hymnals were stored in the closet. I spent about a half-hour teaching the participants how to pronounce the Welsh words. I passed out a phonetic guide to help and we muddled through some Welsh hymns including the Welsh National Anthem.The town opened a museum which has history artifacts and historical documents and pictures.

Kiwanis is a service club first organized in 1915 by a group of businessmen who wanted to barter their services among club members and do community service.  At first it was for men only, but is now co-ed and is open to anyone who is invited.  The membership votes for admitting a new member.  Besides community service, Kiwanis also has fund raising.  One of these events is by soliciting donations and handing out bags of peanuts with a Kiwanis Logo.

One of the high school counselors from Westland High School where my children attended was a member of the West Franklin Kiwanis Club (a Kiwanian).  He was handing out peanuts at the Big Bear supermarket and I stopped to talk.  He invited me to a Kiwanis meeting.  I attended an joined.  I served in Kiwanis many years up to the time we left for Florida in 2005.  During that time, I was a Treasurer and a Club President.  We had many service activities.  We sang at nursing homes and hospitals.  We worked as volunteers at the local hospital, serving in the ER, pediatrics ward and mental health wards.  We also made flower arrangements for the hospital gift shop. We donated a golf cart to the hospital to shuttle patients and visitors between the parking lot and hospital.  We read stories to pre-school children at the local library.  We sponsored youth to camps where they learned how to counsel peers about drug abuse and we staffed those camps.  We donated money to teachers in special programs to keep pregnant girls and young men and women who had a child while still in school to remain in school.  We furnished pediatric backboards to our EMS squads.  We collected food for the food pantry at Halloween by joining the High School Key Club in a costumed “Trick or Treat” event.  Instead of candy, we asked for food.  We managed to collect about a ton of food every Halloween.

Perhaps the best project we had was “Meals on Wheels.” Every Saturday for years, we headed out to deliver meals to the homebound.  As soon as my grandchildren were old enough, they started accompanying me.  They loved this project.  Morgan received a community award for the service she had performed as a seven-year old.  She had donated over 100 hours delivering Meals on Wheels.  For many of the clients we may have been the only contact they had during the week.  They couldn’t wait for the children to come and visit.  We couldn’t stay long because we had many miles to go and meals to deliver.  At one time, we had a route in the Ohio State University area.  During ball games, we sometimes had to go wrong way down one-way streets, cut though alleys and even drive over lawns.  Sometimes, we had to just stop the car in the middle of the street, block traffic and take the meal up to a door and ignore irate drivers.  Each year we volunteered for the Columbus Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) as judges for the bus rodeo.  We judged bus drivers driving through obstacle cones, parallel parking, backing, and other events.  

We raised funds for these projects by selling cheese, by collecting donations at peanut drives and working at Cooper Stadium, for the Columbus Clippers baseball team.  We furnished workers for all home ball games and for stadium special events such as concerts and hotdog days.  We worked at the stadium for over nine years.  We also published a newspaper for about ten years.  I was the editor and had to write stories and take pictures.  We went out at Christmas and gave these newspapers to homes in the community and asked for a donation. We set up a booth selling soft drinks and water at the Lincoln Village 4th of July parade and gave balloons and ID bracelets to children.  At Christmas time, we rang the bell of the Salvation Army.  We called this our “Ding-a-ling” Program.  Once a year we had a pancake breakfast at Westland High School.

However, we had a problem that faces many organizations such as Kiwanis, Lions, and others.  We were unable to attract youth into the program.  Society was much different than in 1915.  There were many more opportunities for service and involvement, especially in sports.  The West Franklin Kiwanis Club had to eventually dissolve and was defunct by 2010.

Mary and I belong to the Englewood Genealogical Society of Florida (EGSF), where I serve on the Board of Directors.  I have a monthly board meeting and we have the monthly general meeting in which we always have a guest speaker on a Family History Topic.  Mary is the Stake Assistant Indexing Director and recruited 20 members of EGSF to help index the 1940 census.  This was a fantastic effort nationwide.  The project was completed four months ahead of schedule.  In addition to the regular meetings, we have special interest groups (SIGS) which meet separately.  Some of these SIGS are Eastern Europe, British Isles, New England, the Midwest, etc.  There is a group that teaches use of Family Tree Maker (FTM).  Most members of EGSF use that particular piece of software.  I personally do not.  I use Ancestral Quest (AQ).

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