I met Ben in about 1976 when we were both in New Haven, and he became a regular visitor to our home, where he loved to romp with the children (photo attached from 1981). We have stayed in touch ever since and Ben visited us as we moved around the country. Our children regularly received gifts of Duke insignia garments and always sported Duke t-shirts, hats, shorts and sweatshirts. Alas, Ben never tempted any of them to join him in Durham but we visited on several occasions and he proudly toured us around campus, introducing us to students and especially Pitchforks!
I love a capella harmony so every year Ben sent us a Pitchfork tape or later CD , and the kids grew up listening for that special First Tenor. Several times the group stopped by when on tour and needed dinner or a place to crash, and the last time I saw Ben was on the California tour two years ago. Although he was very sick, he rallied to sing with the group and beamed when he spotted his friends in the audience (photo attached).
The one time I fished in Alaska, we used a local processor to flash freeze the fresh caught salmon and send it out FedX. As Ben got sicker, and he began his love affair with salmon, I had boxes sent to him from Alaska, as fresh and healthy as could be found. I like to imagine that it added some days to his life…if not gave him a smile for the day.
What can I say about this special man? That he was the smartest person I have ever met? That he was sweet and generous? That he was an enigma at times, alternatively modest and proud? That he was always calm but could erupt in rapture? That he was sartorially challenged but would literally share the shirt from his back? That he consorted with royalty but found community feeding the homeless and hungry?
I can say for sure that he was one of a kind and that I loved him. He will be missed by many.
Thank you to the special friends who took such good care of him in his last years. You are angels.
Jane Weil and family