10th May 1919 – 19 January 2011

A large congregation of family and friends gathered at St Mary’s Church, Usk on Friday, 28th January to pay their respects at a service of thanksgiving for the life of Reuben who died in hospital on Wednesday, 19th January aged 91 years and 8 months.

Except for some years during World War II, Reuben spent his whole life here in Usk.

When his father retired, he took control of the family garage, and built up a thriving business, repairs and resprays, petrol sales and his favourite pitch, selling cars with great persuasion, truly an honest salesman!

During the Second World War, Reuben with his wife Stella, lived and worked in Gloucester. He was employed at the local aircraft factory as a toolmaker. He worked on the design of the Gloster Meteor, all very hush-hush at that time.

On his return to Usk, he resumed work in the garage with his father, and quickly realised the potential of the business and after some difficulty, persuaded his father to expand.

It was at this time that the wartime ban on bell-ringing was lifted and Reuben was recruited to join a band under the tuition of the late Edgar Luft. He very quickly grasped the science of bellringing and was soon ringing Grandsire Triples and also coming to grips with Stedman. Within a couple of years a decent band was ringing for service and a splendid practice night on a Tuesday followed by a beer or three in the Nag’s Head. None of the local ringers were very interested in peal ringing, although Reuben did ring about 30, mostly triples on plain bob. He was delighted to ring a peal of Stedman at All Saints, Newport conducted by the late David King. Reuben loved this method and was able to call numerous touches, and the odd quarter peal.

Reuben was an important member of our handbell team. It was traditional for the band to assemble at Christmas to visit various houses and pubs collecting cash for some worthy cause. We would ring six carols always in strict rotation, and if we were suitably fortified, could ring these whilst walking along the streets in complete darkness. This was tremendous fun and some of our performances are now part of the folklore of the town.

In the early sixties we were joined by his charming wife Stella and, under Reu’s influence, she soon mastered our Triples methods and became, with my wife Eileen, a most welcome member of our band. Later their daughter Julie joined us, followed shortly afterwards by Julie’s husband Trevor.

Reuben was saddened by the recent decline in the ringing at Usk and could not understand why people just did not turn up to ring for service and was most distressed when the practice night was virtually abandoned.

We managed to ring a quarter peal, half muffled on Thursday evening, 18th January, but only by importing 3 ringers from other towers. At the funeral, only 7 ringers were available.

Reuben was twice master of our Llandaff and Monmouth Association, one of few people to hold this position twice.

A keen Freemason, he was an Hon. Life Member of Kennard Lodge having been a member for 60 years, and he rang in a Masonic peal at Bridgend in 1976 by resident masons of South Wales. He was carried to the grave by 6 members of his lodge.

He will be sadly missed by so many people. He lived respected and died regretted. Like many who knew him, I will treasure my friendship with this man and his family.

David J. Hughes

BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers