Gareth Jones: Well-loved Welshman and former chief executive of Bon Secours hospital

Lives Lost to Covid-19: He had a magnetic personality, says his Irish wife, Evelyn

Gareth Jones: ‘He had an open-door policy  and every day he would walk around the hospital twice a day, and he would greet everybody by name and everybody knew him’

Gareth Jones: ‘He had an open-door policy and every day he would walk around the hospital twice a day, and he would greet everybody by name and everybody knew him’

 

This article is one of a series about people who have died with coronavirus in Ireland and among the diaspora. You can read more of them here. If you would like a friend or family member included in the series, please email liveslost@irishtimes.com

Gareth Jones, 1949-2021

Gareth Jones had a magnetic personality and drew people to him with his charm, infectious laughter and warmth of character.

Born in the town of Llysworney in Wales on March 6th, 1949, he was a farmer’s son and an intelligent child who got into grammar school. He worked in hospital administration and married in Wales, having two children, Bethan and Huw.

He moved to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s to work for the Armed Forces Hospital Programme, returning to the UK to work at the Manchester Clinic for four years before travelling again to Saudi Arabia in the early 1990s to work at a hospital in Jeddah.

It was here in 1992 that he met Evelyn, his second wife, while she was working as a biomedical scientist in the same hospital.

“We just fell madly in love. We married 15 months after we met and had three kids in 3½ years – Owen, Colm and Megan,” Evelyn says.

The family moved back to Swords, Co Dublin, in 1997 and Gareth got a job as a manager at the Bon Secours hospital in Glasnevin. He would serve as chief executive there for 16 years.

“His staff loved him because he had a very outgoing personality and he loved people. He had an open-door policy when it came to management and every day he would walk around the hospital twice a day, and he would greet everybody by name and everybody knew him. Nobody was afraid of him,” Evelyn says.

Gareth retired from the Bon Secours in 2016 and set up a healthcare management business which would see him travel to the United States, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

“He was always on the go, always busy, always mentoring people,” Evelyn says.

When Covid-19 hit last year, he sought out a holiday that would be safe and the couple travelled to the Greek island of Santorini, which was on the green list at the time.

He frequently travelled to Wales to see his children and grandchildren. He loved rugby and was a very proud Welshman.

He grew a garden at a local allotment, which he tended to over the summer, and he was heavily involved in his son’s soccer club, Swords Celtic.

He loved sending jokes to people on his phone and was known to almost cry laughing at certain gags.

He liked to go to his local pub in Applewood, Swords, to watch the news over a pint and have a chat with whoever he came across.

One of those he met there texted Evelyn after his death to say they were sorry for taking her husband’s time away from her. “They said they would buy him another pint so that he wouldn’t go home, they loved talking to him so much,” Evelyn says.

“He was such a popular man. He had people in Australia, America, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, all over the world watching his funeral. People he worked with 30 years ago have gotten in contact with me. He made such an impact and he made friends everywhere he went.”

Gareth suffered a stroke on November 28th and was taken to Beaumont hospital. After initially deteriorating, he recovered sufficiently to be taken to St Joseph’s in Raheny for intense rehabilitation.

However, on December 14th, the day before he was due to leave for Raheny, he tested positive for Covid-19, and died on January 9th 2021.

“Covid-19 robbed Gareth of his chance to recover. It robbed my kids of their Dad and it robbed me of my husband. He is missed and he is loved so much.

Covid-19: Lives Lost

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