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McAulay & Wallace Mortuary - Fullerton
902 N. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832
(714) 525-4721

Benjamin R. Sportsman

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Benjamin R. Sportsman Obituary
Sportsman, Benjamin R. CARDIFF / ENCINITAS -- Ben Sportsman passed away quietly at home January 9, 2013, six weeks shy of his 93rd birthday. He was born in 1920 in Marceline, Missouri, the youngest of five children of Robert Henry and Beatrice (Hardin) Sportsman. He worked on the family farm and attended school there. In 1940, he graduated from nearby Central Methodist College. Like many of his generation, he was thrown into the events of World War II. Ben became an infantry officer in the Army's 43rd Infantry Division, 172nd Regiment, attaining the rank of Major. Serving in the Pacific Theater, he was highly decorated, receiving the Silver Star and a Bronze Star with Oakleaf Cluster for gallantry in action. He also received the Purple Heart with two Oakleaf Clusters. During the war, he met Rhona Chaplin in Auckland, New Zealand, where they were married in 1944. Following the war, Ben and Rhona settled in Southern California where Ben started an insurance firm that lasted 44 years. During the Korean War, Ben was recalled to active duty and sent to Germany as an intelligence officer with the army's famed "Big Red 1" First Division. His son, Richard was born in Wurzburg, Germany. Following the Korean War, he and Rhona settled in Whittier, California where they raised their four children. In 1980, Ben and Rhona moved down to Cardiff-by-the-Sea and enjoyed several years of retirement full of travel, grandchildren and friends. Ben was an active member of the Lomas Santa Fe Country Club, and both he and Rhona volunteered many hours at Scripps Hospital in Encinitas. Following Rhona's death in 1996, Ben married a close family friend, Esther Stainbrook in 1997. They moved up to Los Osos, California, where they enjoyed the relaxed lifestyle and slower pace of the central coast. They lived in Los Osos until Esther passed away in 2011. For the last two years, Ben lived with his son, Murray and Murray's family in Fullerton. Ben is survived by his children, Murray (Sylvia) Sportsman, Cathryn Sportsman, Richard (Marcia) Sportsman and Elizabeth (Joachim) Cheung, seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. In addition, he is survived by Esther's children, Louis (Peggy) Zatt, Sherri (Sam) Stoddard, and Eric (Ziyun) Zatt; with six step-grandchildren and four step-great-grandchildren. Ben is remembered for his generosity, his dedication to community service, a lifelong intellectual curiosity, and his love of music, fishing and golf. In the last years of his life, he also became an avid fan of Dodger baseball and Guinness Stout. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations may be made to the Salvation Army or to a preferred charity. Arrangements are by McAulay & Wallace Mortuary, Fullerton.

Published in U-T San Diego on Feb. 3, 2013
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