Ben Smith, Jr. age 88, of Knoxville, passed away Sunday evening, Jan. 13, 2013, at the Hospice Comfort House of Pella.
Ben was born in rural Bussey on Feb. 29, 1924, the son of Ben and Irene (Jones) Smith. He grew up around Bussey and graduated from Bussey High School. After high school Ben attended and graduated from aircraft school.
After aircraft school Ben and Thelma Maxine Shaffer were united in marriage on Aug. 9, 1942, in Las Vegas, Nevada. They shared over 70 years of marriage together, before Ben’s passing and were blessed with two sons: Ben III and Richard Paul.
Ben and Thelma lived in California where Ben was employed with Lockheed Aircraft in Los Angeles. During his employment at Lockheed he was drafted and served in the Army Air Corp during WWII. He served his country from 1943 to 1945, stationed mainly in the Philippines. After his service, Ben and Thelma moved back to Iowa and lived in Knoxville since 1945.
Ben was a very active and good businessman. He founded and operated the Modern Cleaners in Knoxville. Later owned and operated Ben’s Buick Car Dealership; was a Skellgas franchise owner; worked for O’Dey Finance of Des Moines; and finished his business career building and operating laundromats in Chariton and Knoxville. Ben was also active with his hobbies in life. He especially enjoyed golf; he owned and flew an airplane for many years; liked boating, riding motorcycles, classic cars; and later in life restoring antique bicycles. He especially loved entertaining his grandchildren.
Ben was a member of the First United Methodist Church, the American Legion Baty-Tucker Post # 168 and the V.F.W. John Myers Post # 3519 all of Knoxville.
He is survived by his wife Thelma Smith of Knoxville; their two sons, Ben “Sonny” Smith III and wife Sharon of Pella and Richard P. Smith of Farmington, Mo.; one daughter-in-law, Jacquelyn Smith of St. Peter’s, Mo.; four grandchildren, Holly (Bradley) Rietveld, Nicole (Ty) Comstock, James Ross (Shanny) Smith and Kristina (Charles) LaTurno; and eight great grandchildren. Ben is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
Ben was preceded by his parents; and two sisters, Arloise Dodds and Olive Snyder.
A funeral service was held on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, at the Winfield Funeral Home of Knoxville with Rev. Brent Hanna officiating. Burial with military honors followed services at Graceland Cemetery of Knoxville.
A memorial in Ben’s memory has been established to the Hospice Comfort House of Pella or the Marion County Humane Society. Condolences may be sent to www.winfieldfh.com.