Ben F. Gerry was born in Rochester, Minnesota on August 31, 1926 to Benjamin F. Gerry and Grace Lombard Gerry. Within the year, the family moved to Billings, Montana, and Ben graduated from Billings Senior High School in 1944. Ben attended Eastern Montana College for one year before serving in the U.S. Navy from 1944 through 1946, and again in 1950.
Ben moved to Oregon in 1953, where he began his career in the insurance industry as an insurance investigator. Ben became the manager of the Lebanon Credit Bureau in 1956, and worked as an independent property and casualty agent for Roland King Insurance for 13 years. Ben started the Ben Gerry Insurance Agency in Lebanon in 1973, which eventually merged with Rhodes-Warden Insurance in 1990. Ben retired in 1993.
Ben was very active in civic affairs including the Lebanon Jaycees in which he became President, the Lebanon Lions Club, and as a member in the Wigwam Wisemen, a local sports booster club. Ben was selected as Junior First Citizens in1960, and Man of the Year in1974. Ben was very active in the Oregon Professional Insurance Agents Association, serving on the Board of Directors for many years, and as State President in 1982 and 1983. Ben was also selected as Oregon Agent of the Year in the 1980’s. Ben was a member of the Lebanon Volunteer Fire Department, and was very active in planning the Billings Senior High Class of 44 reunions.
Ben worked for over 20 years as a basketball and football official in Oregon and Montana. He was an avid Oregon State University fan and booster for many years. It is an understatement to say that Ben loved golf. He belonged to Pineway Golf Club in Lebanon for many years, and was a charter member of Mallard Creek Golf Club. Ben joined Pryor Creek Golf Club in 2000, and greatly enjoyed being a member of the Seniors there.
Ben’s wife Jane preceded him in death in February, 2000. Ben moved back to Billings in 2001, and in July of that year married his childhood sweetheart, Joanne Romania Converse. He often told everyone he thought he was the luckiest person in the world, having found her again and enjoying so much being together.
Ben loved to sing and had a beautiful singing voice. He could visit with anyone, and never met a stranger. Ben was blessed with many wonderful friends, and will be greatly missed by his loving family and friends.
Ben is survived by his wife Joanne of Billings, daughters Nanette Pons of Cascadia, Oregon, and Lynn Tallman of Santa Rosa, California; grandson Jesse Pons of Seattle, and granddaughter Sparrow Fazzio of Santa Clara, California, and three great grandchildren.
Private family burial will take place in Mountain View Cemetery. A memorial celebration of Ben’s life is planned for Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 4:00pm at the Billings Elks Club, 934 Lewis Avenue. In lieu of flowers, donations in Ben’s memory may be made to First Tee of Montana, Help for Homeless Pets, or Oregon State University Athletics.
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