WESTON - Benjamin F. Van Vliet, 80, died suddenly on Friday, November 15, 2013.
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Ben was born Oct. 2, 1933, and lived his early life in Shrewsbury, NJ. He was a graduate of Red Bank High School and the University of Miami, with a major in journalism.
Preceding his college years, Ben enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served during the Korean War. He trained at Amarillo Air Force Base in Texas, as a B-47 jet engine mechanic. He was stationed in Sidi Slimane, Morocco and Savannah, Georgia.
Ben's career as a journalist started at the Asbury Park Press, where he covered politics and the courts in Freehold, NJ. From there he started a PR/Advertising agency, Young, Van Vliet & Warren in Shrewsbury, serving a varied clientele.
His journalistic career resumed in the '80s at the Daily Register (formerly the Red Bank Register), where he was the Red Bank bureau chief. When the paper ceased operations he went to work for the State of NJ, first as a speechwriter for then-Commissioner of The Department of Environmental Protection, Daniel O'Hern, who went on to become a state Supreme Court Justice. Then Ben assumed the duties of Public Information Officer at the New Jersey Department of Fish, Game and Wildlife, where he also really enjoyed his role as Record Fish Coordinator.
In 1990, Ben left his job with the State of New Jersey to join with longtime family friend, Claudia Ansorge, in the launch of a new community newspaper, Two River Times, in Red Bank, NJ. Claudia served as Publisher while Ben served as Editor In Chief of the publication. It was an exciting and challenging time for Ben as they worked together to establish The Two River Times as a viable local news source that reflected the unique personality of the small community.
In the mid 1990s, Ben retired from the Two River Times and continued to work as a freelance journalist until Ben and his wife, Barbara realized their dream of living a simpler life and moved to idyllic Weston, VT, in 1997. Ben thoroughly enjoyed his new home and life in Vermont, in particular the time he was able to devote to his love of gardening. He also got great enjoyment from his lifelong love of playing the piano.
In addition to Ben's love of gardening and music, he had great enthusiasm and love of sports. Ben began playing tennis with his father as a small child, and continued to played regularly in high school and on into his late 40s. As time passed, Ben switched his athletic pursuits to the game of golf. As a member of Manchester Country Club, he continued to play avidly until his death. He capped off his golf career this past summer, when in the 80th year of his life, Ben had his first hole-in-one. The one thing that never wavered in Ben's life was his devotion to the Boston Red Sox. After suffering many agonizing years as a Red Sox fan, Ben was beyond happy with his team's recent success this past year as World Series Champions.
Ben is survived by his loving wife of 40 years, Barbara Banta Van Vliet, and their son, Peter Windsor Van Vliet and his wife, Kelly Hulsey Van Vliet of Richmond, VA. He is also survived by children of a previous marriage, Benjamin F. Van Vliet III of Ahoskie, NC; Katrina Brady and husband, Tom Brady; Stephanie Downey and husband, Matthew Downey (all of Wall Township, NJ); and Christaan Van Vliet of Southern Shores, NC.
Ben leaves behind 12 loving grandchildren. He is also survived by sister-in-law, Lynn Stockwell and her husband, Peter of West Hartford, CT, brother-in-law, Ned Banta and his wife, Mary Beth of Littleton, CO, and brother-in-law, David Banta and his wife, Caroline of Boston, MA.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, November 22, 2013, at the First Congregational Church of Manchester, VT, with a reception to follow at Manchester Country Club.
Arrangements are by Mahar Funeral Home, in Manchester.
In lieu of flowers, please make memorial donations to the Weston Historical Society, Weston, VT 05161, to honor Ben's involvement in and devotion to historical preservation in Weston.
Published in Rutland Herald on Nov. 20, 2013