Elizabeth Bartholomew Jones, better known as Bartie to the American Youth Foundation community, passed away July 31 at age 98.
Bartie was born Aug. 28, 1924 in Pontiac, Michigan. She grew up in Ohio, where she graduated from Heidelberg College with degrees in music and English. She married Thomas Bebb Jones in 1946, and together they raised three children: Judy, Lynn, and John.
She attended Miniwanca as an Older Girls camper for the first time in 1942, and she returned nearly every summer for the next seven decades as a camper, seasonal staff member, leader, instructor, and poet in residence.
Bartie was a prolific writer, publishing 10 books of poetry, several magazine articles, a few songs, and a novel, “Call to Cambria.” The stunning landscapes of Miniwanca and Lake Michigan often moved her pen, reflected in poems like “My Church:”
“This is my church
Where I come to pray
The dune of sand is my pew
And the altar of truth
Is the blue sky above
And my window
Is the sunset hue.”
As influential as the AYF was in her life, Bartie was equally important in shaping Miniwanca programs and preserving the organization’s history. She proposed amassing, organizing, and categorizing ephemerae from across the decades, laying the foundation for the extensive AYF Archives now available for viewing online and at both sites. Just as she documented the organization’s powerful mission and beauty in her poetry, Bartie saw the tremendous value chronicling the AYF’s history for future generations.
“Bartie played such a special role at Miniwanca and in my personal life,” said AYF Archivist Jan Strube. “Her expressions of life through poetry, music, humor, honesty, kindness, smiles, and love of Miniwanca and its history will never be forgotten. Her proposal to save the AYF archives and share with the future was passion in action.”
Bartie was also instrumental in creating one of the AYF’s longest running adult programs: Summer Seminars for Women. She was dedicated to lifelong learning and growth, and she wanted to build a community of likeminded women committed to rekindling their inner sparks and sharing that light with others. Her passion once again proved lasting; SSW just completed its 35th program in summer 2023.
When she could no longer travel to her beloved dunes, Bartie remained a steadfast attendee of online AYF programs and a strong financial supporter. She was also a member of the Eternal Flame Society and left a generous bequest to the organization in her will.
“Bartie was a true Founder of the American Youth Foundation,” said President Anna Kay Vorsteg. “Her dedication to the organization’s mission and the youth we serve will have profound impact for decades to come. Her beautiful words and generous actions will linger long.”
Bartie is survived by her daughter, Lynn; three grandchildren, Robert Muhn, William Muhn, Hannah; and four great-grandchildren, Finn, Kirby, Camden, and Grace. Bartie is also remembered by seven living nieces and nephews and many friends.