Benjamin Newell Holden, 90, of Hallowell, Maine died peacefully on August 26, 2011 surrounded by his family. Born on April 8, 1921 in Worcester, Ma., Ben was the first of two sons born to Gertrude and Edgar Holden.
He attended school in Holden until his graduation in 1939. He served as a Deacon in his church and was active in the Boy Scouts, becoming a Boy Scout Troop Master in 1941. He served in the Pacific Theater from 1942 to 1945 flying in B-25 "Mitchell" bombers as a radioman/gunner.
After returning from the war, Ben married Judith C. Marshall, also of Holden. They lived in Leominster, Ma., Brookline, NH and Holden, Ma. before settling into the home they built in Sterling, Ma. Ben found work with the New England Telephone Co. as a switchman where he worked until his retirement in 1984. Once retired, Ben and Judy moved to Brunswick, Maine to be closer to their grandchildren. They were great grandparents, thoroughly enjoying every one of them. Judy died in January of 1998.
After several years and much coaxing, Ben agreed to move into Granite Hill Estates, a retirement living community in Hallowell, Maine. He told his children he would move but that he wouldn't talk to anyone. Within two weeks he was part of the Welcoming Committee! For many years he enjoyed the parties, singing, dancing, outings and exercise sessions. In May of this year Ben moved into the Martha Ballard Assisted Living section of Granite Hill Estate due to declining health.
More than anything else, Ben loved to ski. And what a beautiful skier he was! His father taught him when he was a boy and he, in turn, taught his 3 children. Because money was tight he used an old car to power a rope tow behind the home in Sterling so the family had more opportunities to ski. The small slope even had lights to allow for night skiing! In the summer Ben and Judy frequently packed a lunch and the car to take the family to Ben's parents' camp in Webster, where Ben spent hours driving the boat so the children could water ski.
Ben was great with his hands and was adept at dreaming up solutions to problems or ways to improve something. He shortened a rowboat to make it easier for the children to maneuver, built a "viewing" box to enable the children to see the bottom of the lake and during the initial skate boarding craze of the 60's made a skateboard using old roller skate wheels. His biggest project was the house in Sterling. Ben, Judy, and Judy's dad, Skip Marshall, helped Judy's brother, Chip, build the cape on Meetinghouse Hill Road where they lived from 1959 until 1984.
In 1999, after many years of delay, the Marine Corps awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses and Air Medals to Ben for his service during World War II. The award is given as a result of heroism of extraordinary achievement while serving in the air. It was a proud moment for his family but he was bewildered by it, saying "I just did my job". The real honor for him was in receiving them from a general, Major General Joseph E. Tinkham II of the Army National Guard.
Ben leaves behind his son, Bruce J. Holden, and his wife, Debbie, of Collinsville, Oklahoma, his daughter, Patricia E. Parks, and her husband, John, of Whitefield, Maine, his daughter, Jennifer H. Baker, and her husband, Richard, of North Yarmouth, Maine, six grandchildren, Jeffrey Parks, Chelsea Holden Baker Delorme, Zane Baker, Seth Parks, Christopher Holden, Nicholas Holden, 2 sisters-in-law, several cousins and numerous nieces and nephews.
Later in life Ben told his daughters that he felt it was his job to make people laugh. He did. He sometimes made us shake our heads, too, but a visit with him was always memorable. He was a dear man who is greatly missed.
Burial will be private. A celebration of his life will be held at Granite Hill Estates near the end of September.
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