Ben Howell, Sr., was remembered Monday as a good family man, businessman, friend, civic leader and war hero.
The 84-year-old Thomson resident died Monday morning of natural causes at McDuffie Regional Medical Center.
"Thomson has lost another statesman," Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry said after learning of Mr. Howell's death. "Ben Howell, Sr. was a sincere man and wasn't selfish. He was a generous fellow and a good businessman."
Jack B. Smith, who had known Mr. Howell since Mr. Smith had moved to Thomson back in 1955, said, "He was a hero of the great war. He was a pillar of our community and my good friend. He was such a likable man and so easy-going. He was a real good businessman, too."
The two men attended many meetings and luncheons over the years with the Thomson Rotary Club. Mr. Howell had been the oldest member of the civic club. Mr. Smith said he now inherits such distinction.
Rusty Lovelace, another longtime friend of Mr. Howell, said, "Thomson has lost one of its great skyscrapers."
Mr. Howell, according to Mr. Lovelace, served as his Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church of Thomson from the time he was in the ninth grade until he graduated from Thomson High School.
"He was one of the best Sunday school teachers I ever had," Mr. Lovelace said. "He loved God and his church. He was an ideal teacher to all of us boys who grew up in Thomson and attended First Baptist Church back in the late 1950s and 60s."
Mr. Howell talked often with Mr. Lovelace.
"He liked being informed of what was going on in the community or at church," Mr. Lovelace said.
Mr. Howell served as a deacon of his church for many years and was a current member of the church's board of trustees, Mr. Lovelace said. The two men also served as members of the Pool Club - a local organization made up of Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians - who shared their faith with each other.
"Mr. Ben always enjoyed sharing war stories with the group," Mr. Lovelace said. "Our group of 12 men always enjoyed listening to those stories."
Bob Wilson, Jr., another Thomson businessman, said Mr. Howell left many impressions with him during his young years.
"He was a valuable member and very active with the Boy Scout Troop 125, serving on boards of review and as camping merit badge counselor for many years," Mr. Wilson said.
Mr. Howell also was one of the leaders of the Saddle Club and "enjoyed spending his valuable time with his sons and their friends as we enjoyed the weekend trail rides around the county," Mr. Wilson added. "I have many fond memories of Mr. Ben and I will miss him."
Funeral services for Mr. Howell will be held on Friday at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Thomson. Visitation will be held on Thursday, Dec. 25 (Christmas night) at Curtis Funeral Home in Thomson. Burial services on Friday will be private.