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Ben Puckett, 83, died on June 2 at his home in Jackson, MS after a brief illness. He was born in Mobile, AL on December 16, 1929, the son of Angelo S. Puckett and Gertrude Augusta Wooley. He attended Mobile public schools and graduated Murphy High School in 1947. At Mississippi State University, he served as grand master of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, member of Blue Key Honor Society, president of the Colonel's Club leadership organization and treasurer of the Student Government Association. He graduated in 1951.
Following military service in the U.S. Air Force, he and his wife Dorothy Todd of Hattiesburg moved to Jackson where he was employed as a staff accountant at Stribling Brothers Machinery Co., the Caterpillar tractor dealer for Mississippi. He spent the next 55 years in the Caterpillar business.
After working up the ranks at Stribling Brothers, he became a partner in the successor dealerships, Gilchrist Tractor Co. then Stribling-Puckett where he served as president and general manager. In 1982 he achieved his lifelong dream of being sole owner when he formed Puckett Machinery Co.
During his career Puckett served on the board of directors of Trustmark National Bank for 25 years and was an active board member of Metro Jackson Chamber of Commerce, the MSU Development Foundation, Mississippi Roadbuilders Association, Mississippi Asphalt Association and president of the Downtown YMCA. He was a founding member of Jackson Preparatory School. His passion for sports was embodied by his decades of service to the United States Olympic Committee serving as Mississippi State Chairman for 16 years and co-chair for another 10 years. He attended each summer Olympic games from Mexico City in 1968 to Sydney in 2000. In 1993 he received the Distinguished American Award from the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame for his work with the Olympics.
He was a member of St. James Episcopal Church in Jackson and Trinity Episcopal Church in Pass Christian.
He is survived by his wife Dorothy Todd Puckett and six children including daughters Carol Puckett and Helen Puckett Defrance, sons Richard Puckett and his wife Mary, Ben Puckett Jr. and his wife Mary Lee, John Chapman Puckett and his wife Susie, and Todd Hastings Puckett and his wife Rivers.
His twenty-two grandchildren are Hastings Puckett and his wife Amanda, Rob Puckett and his wife Katherine, Susie Puckett Foral and husband Ray, Benjamin Puckett and his wife Alicia, Martin Defrance and Mary Keith, Katie, Will, John, Rivers, Mary Hastings, Christopher, Todd, Carolina and Andrew Puckett. Great-grandchildren are Peyton and Parker Puckett and Allie and Blake Foral.
Ben Puckett's pride and joy was his large family and he delighted in counting and naming all 34. He leaves each of them a legacy of optimism, a fun-loving spirit, belief in self and a childlike wonder and gratitude for the goodness of life.
Visitation will be at St. James Episcopal Church on Tuesday June 4 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and in the church parish hall Wednesday June 5 from 10:30 - 11:45 a.m. A memorial service will follow in the church at 12:00 noon.
Memorials may be made to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, 1152 Lakeland Dr., Jackson, MS 39216
Published in Clarion Ledger on June 3, 2013