Sunday, 26 February 2017

Ben Morse - Hail and Farewell

Ben and my sister Ruth 2016


We gathered last evening for a Celebration of Ben's life.   "We" were about forty people who adored Ben and were enriched by his life.

In brief, he was a New Yorker  who had a notable career first as an actor, then as a costume designer and maker, and finally as a publicity creator and agent for the stage.

Ben's first partner was another actor Louis Beachner.  They were together for forty years.

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/09/24/obituaries/louis-beachner.html

After retirement Ben met my friend Bruce Wirtz. They had a loving and gracious partnership. It was because of my friendship with Ben and Bruce that I moved to Sarasota).  Then Bruce passed from this life.

http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20071015/former-priest-fought-racism-in-the-south


Ben's grief at Bruce's death was never entirely assuaged.

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As that grief ameliorated a bit Ben began to host an Open House at his home every evening at 5:00. We called it "Ben's Bar".  There were never invitations or RSVP's -  if Ben/'s front door was unlocked the bar was open, if it was locked the bar was closed.

There could be as few as three at the bar, or as many as fourteen.  There we learned to enjoy Ben's hospitality, his wit, his erudition, and his anecdotes (repeated often).

Ben was highly opinionated  (as were many guests at his open house), so we had many lively and often very funny conversations,

It was good for Ben and it was good for us.

When Ben (finally thank goodness) gave up driving  we were his drivers to his doctors, his dentist, his podiatrist etc.  On those drives we learned to live with his legendary impatience. He was personally offended by every red traffic signal en route.

That  impatience (which Ben  fully owned) made trips to Total Wine, Publix and Trader Joe  a risky adventure.  Once behind a shopping cart Ben raced through the stores like Dale Earhart on steroids.


In all of this we learned to love him dearly.   So the party last night was splendidly joyful.

Bruce's two sons were there having traveled from Cape Cod and from North Carolina.

Nelson, the older son was there with his wife Meredith and their two young children Silas and Lila,  (I officiated at Meredith and Nelson's marriage in 2005).

Andrew the younger son was with us too with his good wife Myra.

The party also served as a great reunion of friends.  My dear pals Ron and Charlotte were with us and their joy was enhanced by connecting again with Betty  (our 93 years old feisty, funny and wise friend - a WWII era Marine!); and with Kay and Barbara my friends from Pittsfield days who now live in Bradenton.

IN a more serious vein we thought not only of Ben, but also of Bruce, and of our friend Bob who recently moved to a memory unit in an assisted living facility.

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I thought of my friends Joe R and his wife Deanne who with their children Faith and Ben were charmed by our Ben when they visited me from Massachusetts; as was my friend Joe S who visited from London, U.K.

Last but not least  I thought of my family members from the U.K. who have visited me from time to time -  here to meet and be charmed by Ben.  My brother Martyn and his son Sam; my sister Maureen and her husband Bern; my sister Jean and her husband John. my niece Beth and her partner Jordan; my sister Ruth and her partner Dennis.

Bob and Ben were at my home to visit with Maureen and Bern last December. We were the last to see and enjoy him.  He died the next day.







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