Ben Stoeser, 95, of Ft. Pierre, died on Thursday, November 8 at Avera St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre. Visitation will be from 5:30 to 7:00pm on Tuesday, November 13 at St. John’s Catholic Church in Ft. Pierre with a 7:00pm rosary and prayer service. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, November 14 at 10:00am at the St. Johns Catholic Church with interment at the Scotty Philip Cemetery.
Arrangements have been placed in the care of Isburg Funeral Chapel. Online condolences may be made at www.isburgfuneralchapels.com
Without even clicking the heels of any ruby red slippers but surrounded by those he loved, Grandpa Ben went home to be with Jesus on Thursday, November 8, 2018.
Benjamin James Stoeser was born on October 15, 1923 to Albert and Hatta (Wiseman) Stoeser in Ft. Pierre, SD. Ben grew up in “God’s Country”, the third of six boys. In addition to finding mischief with his brothers, Ben attended Sansarc Country School near Hayes then graduated from Pierre High School in 1941. Although Ben had no desire to leave “God’s Country”, the world was calling his name and much like the “Cowardly Lion” he dutifully served in the United States Air Force during WWII. He, along with 3 of his brothers who each served in a different branch of the military at some point during the war, discovered that he truly was brave. In addition to finding courage, Ben came to love to fly which later led to him earning his private pilot’s license.
After his service in the Air Force, Ben returned to “God’s Country”. It is here where Ben’s heart led him to the love of his life. Ben wrote a letter to young teacher, Phyllis Alleman, asking her out for a date. Phyllis accepted, and the rest is a true love story. Ben and Phyllis were married on June 12, 1954 at the old St. John’s Catholic Church in Ft. Pierre, SD. Ben and Phyllis went on to have 4 children; Jo Lynn, Mary Beth, BJ and Teresa. Kind of like the “Tin Man”, Ben’s family has described him as lovable, funny, helpful, kind, caring, giving, cantankerous, grumpy and sarcastic. Ben found his heart in South Dakota and that is where it has been ever since. He absolutely loved “God’s Country” and truly believed that there is “no place like home”.
Ben’s education did not end at Pierre High School. In the same way as the “Scarecrow” he continued to expand his knowledge through life experiences and people with whom he’d meet along his journey through life. Ben loved people and was able to swap many stories about life with anyone, especially those people he met through his many business ventures. Ben, in his white button-down shirt, was a true entrepreneur. He loved farming and owned several businesses including ABB Construction (along with his brothers Alex and Bernie), the Frontier Motel, The Thunderbird Motel 73 Bar, and the Ben Inn Motel. Ben could talk to anyone. Maybe you remember shooting the breeze with him at the grain elevator, while you stayed at the motel, along his mail route, or even remember him as a greeter at Wal-Mart. Who knows, he very possibly could have sold you some light bulbs or spray and wash… just because he could.
Ben, in his “Wizardly” way was well respected in the community. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus (4th degree), the VFW, The American Legion, and the Ft. Pierre Chamber of Commerce. Ben loved the game of baseball and was a member of the 4 Corners Baseball Team. He proved you’re never “too old” to play and participated in the Senior Olympics in 1987 and 1988.
Left to honor Ben and remember his love include Ben’s wife,Phyllis; children, Jo (John) Levenick, Champlin, MN, Mary Beth (Lynn) Fravel, Ft. Pierre, SD and Teresa (Doug) Keyser, Box Elder, SD, eight grandchildren; Melissa(Jason) Brodeur, Lacey Fravel (Seaver Barauch), Lance(Megan)Fravel, Emma Levenick (Branden Voigt), Kara Levenick, John (Kiara) Levenick, Brady Keyser, Shelby(James)Cox four great-grandchildren; Kendall and Landen Brodeur and Lawson and Myah Fravel. Brother, Bernie Stoeser, Pierre; sisters-in-law, Carmen Alleman, Hayes and Barb (Mike) Oros, Stevensville, MI.
He was preceded in death by his parents Albert and Hatta, son B.J and granddaughter Megan Keyser. He is also preceded in death by his brothers and their wives, Roy Leo (Waunetta), Johnny, Alex(Irene and Lucille),Gene(Regina and Nita) his parents-in-law Clinton and Sybil Alleman, sisters-in-law Pat Stoeser and Jeanette Benson and brothers-in-law Clark Alleman and Laurel Benson, one niece Linda Stoeser and two nephews Vince and Mike Stoeser.
In the words of the Wizard of Oz, “Hearts will never be practical, until they can be made unbreakable”. Our hearts are breaking, and Papa Ben will be greatly missed. Some days you may find us sitting on the deck Ben built on the top of the town, looking “Somewhere over the rainbow” where “Skies are blue,” and truly feeling that there is “No Place Like Home”.
Memorials can be directed to the Ft. Pierre American Legion Baseball Field or St. John’s Catholic Church.