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Sunday, August 27, 2023
6:30 - 8:30pm (Central time)
Monday, August 28, 2023
Starts at 10:00am (Central time)
Benny Allen Wysong, 83, of Sabetha, Kansas, died at home on August 21, 2023, surrounded by his family.
Ben was born November 26, 1939, in Bluffton, Indiana, to Chancey LeRoy and Evelyn Stavenik Wysong. He grew up in the aftermath of the Great Depression, attending several grade schools in Indiana and Ohio as his dad relocated to find work. In 1951, the family settled in Topeka, Kansas, traveling each Sunday to Sabetha to attend church. Ben attended middle and high schools in Topeka, but a need for a change of scene mid-junior year landed him at Sabetha High School in early 1957. He soon found his way, shining in sports, especially as a pole vaulter, and dating Janice Aberle.
Following graduation, he worked at Wenger Manufacturing as a machinist before being drafted into the Army in 1962, where he served in a noncombatant role during the earliest days of the Vietnam War. After basic training as a medic at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, he returned to Kansas briefly to marry Janice on June 2, 1963. She joined him in Texas while he finished his military service at Fort Hood.
He and Jan formed life-long friendships with the fellow service members and their wives, exchanging phone calls and Christmas cards and reconnecting every summer at Fort Sam reunions. Up to and through the last weeks of his life, these friends continued to send him messages of love and spiritual encouragement.
In 1974, with the acquisition of a small dairy delivery business, Ben became Sabetha’s milkman, weaving his reliable service into the fabric of the town. Long before “taking your kid to work” was cool, he welcomed little helpers on the route, letting us kids run orders up to customers’ doors. As soon as our feet could reach the pedals, he let us take the driver’s seat, steering the old milk truck slowly from house to house, while he did the running. We knew that the air could be chilly on those mornings that started long before the sun was up –“By 9, the best part of the day is gone,” he told us–but we also knew pancakes were waiting at Buzz Cafe. One of Ben’s famous sayings originated when we begged for our friends to come along on this unique summer job: “One boy, good boy. Two boy, no boy.” Never hurrying, he was always on the move, though he usually paused mid-day for a rest. Even then, he acted with purpose: He could take a 30-minute nap in 31 minutes.
Whether he was making an extra trip to fill a late milk order, putting on a mitt to play catch at the end of his work day or bandaging a scraped knee (while Mom fainted on the couch), Ben was gentle, at ease and patient. Nobody could deny the honesty of David’s nickname for him: Easy Dad.
Along with owning and operating the route for more than 30 years, Ben farmed and raised livestock. In retirement, he continued to farm and took on small jobs, such as working at the hardware store, quitting only when cancer that had been successfully treated years earlier returned. He also worked at Lakeside Terrace, where he got to know the residents’ names and their likes and dislikes, while he repaired furniture, appliances and lackluster plumbing. He volunteered at the AC Home restocking supplies, and with Jan, he delivered Meals on Wheels. He accepted with grace and humility the tasks that others declined, such as serving for many years on the board of the Sabetha Alumni Association.
Using tools handed down from his own father, he spent hours tinkering: baby buggies, bedsteads and old cars got a new life in his workshop. He rebuilt a Ford Model A, and when he got his hands on a 1948 Super De Luxe that arrived mostly in buckets, he rebuilt that, too. Late summers, the answer to “Where’s Dad?” was always Albany Days, where he could never get enough of watching the antique farm implements in action.
Ben was a member of the Apostolic Christian Church, serving as one of its ministers for many years. Following in the footsteps of his parents and grandparents, he was devoted to the church, ever mindful that his actions were in service to the good of his church family. His natural faith carried him calmly through the troubles of parenting and aging, living and dying–we all leaned on the unwavering belief that supported him in the wearying days of pain at the end.
Jan, Ben’s wife of 60 years, survives him. He is also survived by Benj and his wife, Staci; Natalie and her husband, Ron Grass; Erin and her husband, Mark Hutchinson; Becky Haney and her husband, Jim; and David and his wife, Cindy.
Grandpa Ben will also be remembered by grandchildren Erica Bletscher and her husband, Tyler; Madi Kipp and her husband, Corey; Keith Wysong and his wife, Jenae; Amy Wysong and her partner, Chad Phillips; Olivia Haney; Benny and Henry Wysong-Grass; and Cade and Elle Wysong; and great-grandchildren Ashton, Abram and Della Bletscher and Kal Kipp. Ben leaves behind his sisters Nancy Gerber (Bob, deceased) and Sally Haerr (Norman): He was predeceased by his parents and brother, Jack (Janet).
The family extends a special note of gratitude to the staff of Nemaha County Home Health and Hospice for their tremendous kindness and care in the final months of Ben’s life.