Local Employee Discovers Great Grandfather Worked For YMCA In China

One of the 70 lantern slides (ca. 1912, hand tinted) of the Great Wall of China made by Luther Newton Hayes (1883-ca. 1979) and the explorer Edgar Geil. Luther Newton Hayes is the the grandfather of Los Alamos Family YMCA employee Jocelyn Chapman. Courtesy photo
Senior Program Director
Family YMCA  

 As a Los Alamos High School student in 1993, Jocelyn Hayes picked up a part-time job at The Family YMCA. She guided youth as a substitute counselor at the Y’s afterschool program at Mountain and Aspen elementary schools.
In 1995, a year after her high school graduation, she started working at the Y’s front desk, eventually rising to the position of administrative assistant where she helps with book keeping, tracking scholarships, billing and managing social media. She has since married and changed her last name to Chapman.

Unbeknownst to her, Jocelyn’s great grandfather on her paternal side also worked for the Y, but as a secretary in China. Family members researching genealogy found out that Luther Newton Hayes is part of a rich YMCA history.

The son of American missionaries, Luther Newton Hayes was born on April 19, 1883, in Soochow, China. He received a B.S. from Wooster College in 1905, and an M.A. from Princeton University in 1907, then moved back to China where he worked for the next 25 years. He served as a YMCA secretary from 1910-1932, but also worked as an English tutor to the prime minister’s grandson.

Upon returning to the United States, Hayes worked at several universities as an administrator, and as a curator at a museum in Plattsburgh, New York. He wrote two books, The Great Wall of China and The Chinese Dragon.

In 1923, he married Frances Gray, who died a year later, days after the birth of a son, who would be Jocelyn’s grandfather. In 1927, Luther married Rhea Pumphrey.

Jocelyn’s great grandfather Luther died in 1979 at the age of 96, according to family members. Luther’s work for the Y in China is part of an historical footprint in one direction as the Y movement spread across the world.