Eulogy for Daniel Ben

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Today, family and friends are gathering to reflect on the life of Mr. Daniel Ben. Daniel is survived by his wife, Jeanne Ben; brother, Albert Benaltabe; son, Steve Ben; and his daughters, Claire Dingle, Maurene Wardell, Ricka Leeser, Cindy Meyer, and Tari Brown - 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Daniel was born Jan 2, 1925, in Seattle, WA, to Isaac and Clara Benaltabe. After graduation from Garfield High School, Daniel enlisted in the United States Navy and served during World War II on the Pacific Fleet from 1942-1945.

He returned to Seattle and opened a flowers, fruits, and vegetables stand in the University District. He loved flowers, sports, friends and family. He loved to travel with the extended family to warm places to soak up the sun and just people watch whether it be Palm Springs in the winter or Chelan in the summer. He was always up for shopping as long as there was a bench where he could sit.

Daniel was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Victoria Mayo Hodges; brother, Vic Ben; daughter, Esther Lee Ben; and of course, Lucy Ben.

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to get together with Daniel's family to survey the life of this very unique man.

How many of us in Daniel's difficult situation would have exerted themselves to hand-write a thank you note to our nurses? How many of us would have spent a moment thinking how we were going to tip our caregivers?

But this is the kind of man that Daniel Ben was. He was an appreciative and giving person. He spent his life providing for others while, in return, demanding very little for himself. Through University Fruit and Produce, many young kids of the Seattle community worked thanks to Danny.

For Daniel Ben, enduring, close relationships - triggered by his giving - were the priority. That's what provided him with life's joys and sense of satisfaction. Becky says that when her husband, Daniel's brother Albert, had surgery in back in 1993, Daniel came every day to see his brother. Daniel would always make sure that the kids were fed before him. His love for his children spilled over into his appreciation of their friends. Claire recalls that as a child, when she took the initiative of inviting friends home, her father, upon discovering the invitation after the fact, would always give the official okay…

The warmth that he bestowed on Claire and Steve carried over to all of Jeanne's daughters and their families; He was a true father to Jeannie's girls, and his generosity both in terms of his time and resources, they reciprocated most intensely in the last few weeks, when the tables turned, and he became someone in real need. Those beneficiaries of his giving, on the receiving end of his warmth and kindness, naturally wanted and needed to give back to him.

Alongside this gentle personality, Daniel had his share of idiosyncracies. Steve says that Daniel didn't trust banks too much, and at one point ensured the security of his personal wealth under the lettuce in the refrigerator. Another interesting quirk, stemming as much from his concern for safety as it did from his love of order, was his ritual of turning off appliances when he would leave home for a day in the park with the family. Halfway to the park, if there was not absolute certainty that the stove was completely turned off, he would turn around the car and go home just to make sure...

And if he did not care for what was being served for dinner on a particular night, he would cordon off the area by surrounding his place setting with cereal boxes!

Happy is the man whose life story is summarized by these kinds of reflections, a person about whom we can only critique a few quirks! Happy is the man whose personal qualities mimic those of our Creator. Chesed Olam Yibane….It was through kindness and giving that G-d created the world. Chesed Olam Yibane. And it was through kindness and giving that Daniel Ben created his world.

מנוחתו בגן עדן
May his resting place be in the Garden of Eden

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Guest Wednesday, 24 January 2018