Ben J. Crisler, 76, of Brandon, Fla., died Aug. 3, 2014. Ben was born in Maysville, Ga., to the late Robert and Bessie Mae Crisler.
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Ben's parents were sharecroppers in Maysville, until the time of his mother's death. At that time his father relocated with his children to Gainesville, Ga. In 1953, Ben took his first job as a messenger boy with Western Union, working after school and weekends until graduating high school. He then became a teletype operator until his promotion to office manager in 1959, in West Point, Ga. In 1961, he was promoted to relief manager for the states of Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, a position he held until 1966. From 1968 to 1971, he was promoted numerous times, ending as the area supervisor for Central and North Florida.
During his tenure with Western Union as a press officer, he covered many liftoffs at the Kennedy Space Center, the Daytona 500 and the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta. In 1974, after 20 years with Western Union, he joined the Denny's restaurant chain and managed stores in Orlando, Largo and Tampa as a training manager. In 1978, he joined the Sambo's restaurant chain as a training manager in Zephyrhills and Brandon. He and his family opened Ben's Family Restaurant on April 7, 1981, on Kings Avenue in Brandon, Fla. In 1986, the restaurant moved to its current location on East Brandon Boulevard where it remained a Brandon family tradition for 25 years. It was the oldest independent restaurant and was a landmark in the community. In 2005, he sold the restaurant and retired. The restaurant remained in operation as Ben's Family Restaurant until it was destroyed by fire in May of 2014. Ben is survived by his wife of 49 years, Rancine; his children, Lori Faria (Silvestre) of Brandon, Fla., Mark Crisler (Keri) of Young Harris, Ga., David Crisler of Jefferson, Ga., and Ginger Hiland of Jefferson, Ga; his five grandchildren, Ben and Megan Faria, Evan Crisler, Whitney Pethel and Nicki Jones; and one great-grandchild, Lillie Rose Pethel. He is also survived by two sisters, Jeanette Roshau and Joann Greenway; and one brother, Ralph Crisler. He was preceded in death by his oldest daughter, Carol Ann Crisler; and his stepmother, Willie Mae Crisler. A memorial service will be held at Serenity Meadows Funeral Home on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.; the family will greet guests 30 minutes prior. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Ben to Autism Speaks.
Serenity Meadows Memorial Park, Funeral Home & Crematory
6919 Providence Road, Riverview, FL 33578
Phone 813-677-9494, Fax 813-677-7391
Serenity Meadows Memorial Park & Funeral Home - Riverview
6919 Providence Road Riverview, FL 33569
Published in gainesvilletimes.com on Aug. 7, 2014