Ben spent the first few weeks of his life in a shoebox in the warming oven as he was born prematurely. His first crib was a dresser drawer.
Ben started his education in the Whitepine School and later transferred to Thompson Falls. He was drafted into the United States Marine Corp. when he turned 18 in 1945. After the war ended, he returned to Thompson Falls in August of 1946 to finish his senior year of high school.
Ben and Viola Oliver married Sept. 14, 1947 and that winter they ran the Big Pine Service Station (Where Little Bear is today). They lived their first summer in a tent up Thompson River at the Big Prairie where he worked for his father-in-law, John Oliver’s, logging company, Oliver & Oliver. Even after the birth of their first daughter, Susan, the camp of Thompson River was home. Then in the spring of 1948 Ben and Ole purchased the West Side Trailer Court (where Town Pump is today). Here two more daughters were born, Janet and Jeanne. In 1961 Ben and Ole purchased a ranch at Belknap on Little Beaver Creek Road. Ben and Ole could not afford to keep the ranch and the Town Pump location, so they placed both up for sale and decided to keep whichever one didn’t sell. Thank God the Town Pump location sold! They built a house and moved to the ranch on July 6, 1964. That fall a son, Tony, was born.
Ben bought his father-in-law’s share if Oliver & Oliver Logging & Road Construction. The other half belonged to John Oliver’s brother, Earl Oliver. Ben and his crew built forest roads all over Western Montana and Northern Idaho, including many of the main routes still used today. He oversaw hundreds of logging jobs and employed dozens of people in the woods. Years ago he also did a lot of fishing, hunting, camping and packing. He continued acquiring property and worked his ranch, logging, haying, and raising polled Hereford cattle. The ranch was a huge part of his life. Ben was a member of the Elks and was a school board member when the new high school was built in 1972.
Ben knew a lot of people and was kind to all. He was known for his smile, kind word, honesty, hard work, and a pat on the shoulder.
In his children’s eyes, he was the best dad ever. His wife of 66 years, Viola (Ole) was the love of Ben’s life.
Ben is survived by his wife, Viola; four children, Susan Cox Selah of Washington, Janet (Doug) Shear, Jeanne Cox, and Tony (Nanette) Cox all of Thompson Falls; and sister, Nancy (Herb) Sandquist of Canada. He had 13 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Donnie Cox; a grandson and a granddaughter who died at birth.
A no-host celebration of Ben’s life will be held at the Thompson Falls Elks Lodge from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25. Cremation has taken place and he will be buried at the Fraternal Cemetery in Thompson Falls at a later date.