Our beautiful boy Benjamin C. Uhland lived and died on his own terms. His struggle in this world ended peacefully while he slept Sunday, April 7, in Jacksonville, Fla. He was 24 years old. Benjamin was welcomed into this world Oct. 29, 1988, in Jacksonville. He was a strong and healthy baby, who slept little, walked at 8 months, ran two weeks later and never slowed down again.
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Ben's first big move was in 1996 to Wellsville, Utah, with his mother and stepfather. Although he traveled back and forth across the U.S. throughout his life, Wellsville was home base for Ben and he loved Cache Valley's mountains, rivers, dams and forests. He attended schools in the Cache and Logan districts and eventually earned his high school diploma through the Logan Adult Education program. Ben was blessed to have many teachers and administrators work tirelessly on his behalf.
Ben also had wonderful experiences living in Jacksonville with his father and stepmother, in Lake Wales with his Papa Chip, in Chicago with his Uncle C.J., in Monterey near his dear sweetheart Anastasia Lynne Espinoza and their son, Ethan Christopher, age 3. At every age and in every place, Ben gravitated to the water where he found peace. His work as a crew member at Princess Monterey Whale Watching brought him joy, pride and true happiness.
Ben was gifted. No physical challenge was too great and he excelled at all sports. He picked up the guitar and played and sang with apparent ease. He was an incredibly talented photographer. His ability to catch a fish anywhere, anytime was remarkable. Ben had a wonderful sense of humor and he brought immense joy to us. His death brings us equal sorrow.
Ben's greatest quality was also his curse. He felt things so deeply. Much more than most of us, Benjamin loved passionately, laughed loud, played hard and dreamed big. But he felt too deeply sadness, rage, anger and then remorse. His disability was made more difficult because it was not immediately apparent or comprehendible to others.
Still, Ben had an uncanny ability to develop and maintain friendships. He loved his friends and stayed in close and constant contact with them. Those who met Ben will never forget him. In everyone around him, Benjamin saw and brought out their best. He championed the infirm, the old or those likely to be bullied or overlooked.
In raising Benjamin, our family received invaluable support from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its good members. We will also be forever in debt to First District Court Judge Kevin Allen and those who work with him in Mental Health Court, including Bryan Galloway. We know that Ben's participation in Mental Health Court lengthened and improved the quality of his life.
We don't know how we will go on without Ben, but his survivors include his son Ethan Christopher Espinoza, who will turn four in May; parents Chris (Kristi) Uhland and Arrin Newton Brunson (Travis); grandparents Chip Newton, Ken and Julie Beaudua and Hugo Uhland; six brothers, Terry (20), Eli (18), Charlie (11) and Gabriel (9) Brunson and Samuel (16) and John Uhland (12); and one sister, Emily (15) Uhland. Ben enjoyed rich relationships with his uncles, aunts and cousins who showed great love for him and will grieve his loss for the rest of their lives. Ben was preceded in death by his grandmother, Sarah Thomas.
Services, a viewing and memorial, will take place Friday and Saturday in Jacksonville, details about which can be found online www.quinn-shalz.com. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to an account established for Ben's son at SunTrust Bank in Ethan's name, account #1000032532029.
Published in Logan Herald Journal from Apr. 11 to Apr. 14, 2013