Benjamin Arthur Laws, beloved husband of Dorothy, father of Ben Jr., David and Daniel, grandfather of Becca, Pamela and Ben III, died peacefully at Billings Health and Rehabilitation at 10:45 p.m. Saturday, June 30, 2012, surrounded by family. He was 91.
The son of Benjamin Citone Laws and Helen Marie Keating Laws, Ben was born on May 31, 1921, in Riverton, Wyo., near the Wind River Canyon. He grew up enjoying outdoor activities, especially camping, fishing, hiking and hunting. He graduated from Riverton High School in 1939.
Upon his enrollment at the University of Wyoming, Ben participated in the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps program. Because of this, he did not ship out with the other college students when war was declared in 1941, and was able to complete his education. In 1943, he was awarded a bachelor’s degree, and received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army.
Ben was ordered to Fort Benning, Ga., for basic training, and was then sent to Tyler, Texas, where he met the great love of his life, Dorothy Louise Moxley, a high school art teacher. They were set up on a blind date by mutual friends, and Ben’s comment about seeing her for the first time was, “What a dish!” They were married on Sept. 16, 1944, in Little Rock, Ark.
Shortly after the wedding, Ben shipped out to New Guinea, and was sustained throughout his service in the Pacific Theater of World War II by Dorothy’s prayers and daily letters. Their first child, Ben Jr., was born in Texas in 1945 and after Ben’s discharge from the Army as a Captain, the three moved to Billings, where Ben Sr. began working at H-C-L Equipment. Their second son, David, was born in 1948, and, in 1952, the family lost a third son, Daniel, in pregnancy.
Ben passed on his love of the outdoors to his two sons, and many other young residents of Billings, by serving for many years as the scoutmaster of Troop 6. Ben Jr. and David have many fond memories of hunting, fishing, camping and hiking with their father. As well, the family journeyed every year to either Texas, to see Dorothy’s family, or Phoenix, Ariz., to visit his parents, always via a different route in order to see all the National Parks and other sights in the Western United States.
An excellent businessman, salesman, and employer, Ben became the sole owner of H-C-L Equipment, and ran the business successfully for many years. He retired in 1986, and he and Dorothy were able to enjoy some of the world travel they had always dreamed of doing.
In addition to his work and family responsibilities, Ben played and marched in parades with the American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps. He was active in the community as a member of the Optimist Club, the Elks Club, and the Chamber of Commerce. He also served as the President of the Truck Equipment Dealers Association in the Montana region. An avid golfer, he was elected as the President of the Board of Directors of Yellowstone Country Club. In his later years, his faith became very important to him, and he was an active member and leader of the Churches of Christ in both Billings and Laurel.
After Dorothy passed in 2000, Ben became a volunteer at a local grade school, and worked with first- and second-grade students every week. He also made the rounds of local retirement homes and rehabilitation facilities, singing hymns and popular music from the ’40s and ’50s.
Ben was always there for friends and family with a helping hand, a good joke, and all the love in the world. His influence on all who met him was profound, especially those who were lucky enough to be in his Boy Scout troop. He brought his love and happiness through triumph and tragedy and instilled hope and happiness in all who were fortunate enough to meet him.
Ben was preceded in death by his parents Ben and Helen; his son, Daniel; and his wife, Dorothy. He is survived by his sons, Ben Jr. and David; and his grandchildren, Becca Hanna, Pamela Wilson, and Ben Laws III.
Our family would like to express our gratitude to the staff at Billings Health and Rehabilitation, and Rocky Mountain Hospice, for their loving care of our father in his final days.
Memorials may be sent to the Rocky Mountain Hospice, at 2110 Overland Ave., Suite 111, Billings, MT 59102, or the Boy Scouts of America, at http://www.montanabsa.org/.
A celebration of Ben’s life will be held from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 5, in the dining room at Billings Health and Rehabilitation, 2115 Central Ave., in Billings. Interment will follow at Yellowstone Valley Memorial Park, 3605 Grand Ave., in Billings. All are invited.