Benjamin "Ben" H. Hanish, 75, of Lake Wales, Florida, formerly of Wayne Lakes, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his wife and daughters, on Monday, January 16, 2023, in Greenville, Ohio after a brief battle with cancer.
He was born on July 14, 1947, in Richmond, Indiana, to the late Harold Showalter and Permilla (Pheanis) Hanish.
In addition to his parents, Ben was preceded in death by his identical twin brother Andrew Hanish and younger brother Joe Hanish.
After high school, Ben enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he served for three years aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise during the Vietnam War. After he was honorably discharged, he became a Deputy with the Darke County Sheriff's Department. His ambition then led him to a long career at BASF (formerly Inmont) and while there he moved up the ranks from Chemist to become the Environmental Safety Manager. He retired in 2005 after 30 years. Ben was able to enjoy 17+ years of retirement, mostly in Florida, with the love of his life, his wife, Claudia. Together, they enjoyed dancing, karaoke, entertaining and spending time with friends and family, and "living the good life" in the sunshine.
Ben was the definition of an outdoorsman. He enjoyed gun and bow hunting to the point of being (in his own words) "obsessed" with the sport. He was proud to always be the one at deer camp to get the first kill and had many "There I was..." stories about his excursions. After moving to Florida, he hunted wild hogs and even armadillos who dared to invade lawns, gardens, and crawlspaces. Ben loved fishing as well and was able to enjoy this daily throughout his many years living in Wayne Lakes and in Lake Wales, Florida. He was so often seen on the pier across the street from his home in Florida that there was talk of naming it after him.
In spite of knees that troubled him throughout his life, Ben was very athletic. He was a gymnast in high school, enjoyed boxing in the Navy and enrolled in bowling and competitive softball leagues throughout his work life. He played tennis during his lunch hours at BASF. Golf, however, was the one sport that he absolutely loved and was able to enjoy well into his retirement. He was especially proud of the hole in one he achieved.
When he absolutely had to spend time indoors, Ben found reading to be his favorite pastime. In retirement he would read a book a day. He loved westerns, adventure, and anything related to history.
Because of his hobbies, most would describe Ben as a man's man, but to those who truly knew him that was only half of the story. Ben found himself surrounded by women at home: his wife, Claudia, and two daughters, Laurie and Leslie. Ben adored his family and was never afraid to speak or show his love openly and without reservation. Every hello, goodbye, good morning and goodnight included a hug and a kiss goodbye. He was a "paper tiger" as his wife would often comment. He wrote beautiful notes expressing how much he loved them all. Despite this loving, kind, and gentle nature, though, Ben would often find an opportune time to clean his guns whenever any boys came to visit his daughters!
Ben often spoke of his family and his love transcended to the next generation with his grandkids and great grandkids. He was very involved in their lives and would light up whenever they were around.
Ben had a beautiful baritone singing voice. He entertained his daughters by impersonating Elvis in the living room and singing them songs such as "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "The Most Beautiful Girl." In retirement, he took that show on the road with several stints of karaoke at various Florida Venues. His favorite song was "The Last Farewell" by Roger Whittaker.
Ben never met a baby he did not adore. Even the most colicky baby would find comfort in his arms as he sang softly to them. Maybe it was the voice? Maybe it was the Stetson cologne? Maybe it was the extreme heat that he radiated? Crying babies were no match for him!
Ben was, most of all, a patient and gentle man. He was the calm in any storm and will be deeply missed by his family and all who were lucky enough to know him.
Ben is survived by his wife of 55 years, Claudia (Schinke) Hanish, whom he married on September 2, 1967; his daughters, Laurie (Keith) Westheimer of Dayton, Ohio, and Leslie (Timothy) Gunckel of Greenville; his grandchildren, Jack Smalley, David Smalley, Kyli (Hazen) Ripple, and Cody Gunckel; his great grandchildren, Bella and Grayson Ripple; and numerous nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends.
A memorial service, with full military honors provided by the Greenville Honor Guard, will be held for Ben at 12 noon on Saturday, January 28, 2023, at Tribute Funeral Homes, Greenville campus, with Pastor Tony Price officiating. Burial will follow at Oak Grove Cemetery in Fort Jefferson, Ohio.
Guests may visit with Ben's family on Saturday from 10:00 AM until the time of the memorial service at the funeral home.
Memorial contributions may be given to EverHeart Hospice, 1350 N. Broadway Street, Greenville, Ohio 45331
Online condolences may be shared with the family by visiting www.tributefuneralhomes.com.