Family, friends honor the life of Ryan Jones

Hundreds gathered at the St. John’s-Newberry United Methodist Church Wednesday morning to remember the life of Ryan D. “Jonesy” Jones, of South Williamsport, who was found murdered on New Year’s Day.

Jones, born Feb. 13, 1990, to H. Dean Jones and Jamie R. Nelson, was a corporal and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist in the 128 Chemical Co. for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

He was fondly referred to as “the old guy,” as he joined in his mid-20s, and looked at as a role model by his fellow service members, said the Rev. Mark Brumbach, who co-officiated the service with the Rev. Lenore Hosier.

“Ryan was a guy who liked to encourage others. He sounds to me like a person who brought a lot of joy, and even sought to bring some laughter when things weren’t the best, like maybe through the gas chamber at Fort Jackson, South Carolina,” Brumbach said. “Ryan’s the kind of guy I wanted standing beside me because he kept me laughing while we were all coughing and choking together.’ “

Brumbach encouraged the congregation to accept God’s companionship through this tragedy, to “hold onto God’s hand.”

“If I try to look at this through my human lens, it just makes me angry. And that’s certainly one of the ways we can look at this situation, through our humanness and our brokenness,” he said. “But I want to challenge us to look at this and to deal with it from another perspective. With God at our sides.”

He referenced verses from Psalm 23: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

“It reminds us that, if we will walk with God, God will walk with us,” he said. “But that requires us to admit that we can’t handle this on our own.”

Brumbach offered the microphone to friends and family willing and able to speak about Jones.

“Let’s join together and see if we can’t come to some sense of peace in the midst of this service.”

Friends spoke up, recalling his outgoing personality and friendliness.

“He never made you feel like you weren’t good enough,” one said, adding how much Jones loved his friends and family. “He loved you guys, you’re all he talked about.”

Another friend, who served with Jones, agreed.

“He loved you, he loved your family,” he said. “It hurts standing here today. An angel was taken from us.”

“Many people in these situations will tell families that God needed him more,” a family member said. “That’s not true. We needed him more. … Don’t let a day go by that you don’t tell your friends, your family and your kids that you love them and to be safe.”