I take this week's column to talk about a man who was well-known in this part of Georgia Ben Howell, Sr.
I first got to know Mr. Ben when his younger son, Danny, played prep basketball at Briarwood Academy a number of years ago. I always thought a lot of Mr. Ben.
Last week, he died.
A news colleague notified my boss that Mr. Ben had passed away last Monday morning. I was given the assignment to write a news story about what others in our community thought about him.
It didn't take long. And those we talked to about Mr. Ben weren't hesitant at all in talking about their friend. His friends remembered him with kind words when they were interviewed.
Mr. Ben, as so many of us called him out of respect, was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He cared about his family very much and he cared about others, too. And what's more, perhaps, he showed such both ways.
As a businessman, Mr. Ben was very intelligent and highly respected. He was a man who seemed to relish the opportunity of helping others.
I remember several years ago when he owned and operated a flea market store in the shopping center off the Warrenton Highway. I went into the store to look at a variety of books he had displayed along dozens of shelves and on tables.
The stockpile of books fascinated me.
I'll never forget Mr. Ben telling me, "Just make yourself at home, if there's anything I can help you with, just let me know."
He had three attributes that I personally admired. They were sincerity, kindness and honesty. I wish everyone had exhibited those fine qualities.
Mr. Ben enjoyed being around his friends and sharing stories about his time in the U.S. Army and fighting in World War II. During that war, Mr. Ben was nearly killed by machine gun fire, according to one of his closest friends, Jack B. Smith, of Thomson.
He was called a war "hero" by Mr. Smith.
Mr. Ben never let his war injuries keep him down. He always found a way to keep going and to be as productive as he could be. I always thought that was so courageous of him.
In addition, he enjoyed serving God and demonstrating daily his deep faith, love and commitment for God. I always considered those beliefs exceptional qualities.
Though Mr. Ben is no longer with us in life, may those of us who knew him always remember him. And may we adapt to our lives some of the fine qualities he possessed as not only a man, but a gentleman.