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William Benjamin POLK


1930 - 2014 Obituary Condolences Gallery
William Benjamin POLK Obituary

William Benjamin Polk

SOUTH PASADENA, FL - William Benjamin Polk, beloved statesman, husband, father and grandfather, passed away Oct. 1, 2014, surrounded by family and friends.

He was born in Hamburg, Iowa, on Jan. 24, 1930, to Warren and Carrie-Belle Polk. Ben graduated from Percival Iowa High School, attended Univ. of Nebraska, was a brother in Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and ultimately obtained his Masters of Arts in Political Science from the Univ. of Illinois in 1980.

Ben spent most of his life in public service motivated by a positive attitude and the desire to help others. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps, both active and reserve, from 1948-1956. Ben served five terms in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1972-1980 for the 36th District and was the Majority and Minority Whip.

He also served in a variety of leadership positions including Director of the Illinois Dept. of Aging. Ben managed the American Red Cross in Rock Island County, Ill., for a decade, responding to multiple disasters including the flood of 1965. He served as a professor at Springfield College, Lincoln Land Community College, in Illinois, and Edison State College in Fort Myers, Fla. He also served as a political analyst for WINK-TV CBS.

Ben was always the man of the year for his bride of 52 years, Mildred Ida Selander, whom he met in 1959 in San Francisco, and married four months later. Ben and Millie spent 13 years of their retirement on Fort Myers Beach, Fla. They volunteered for Turtle Time, waking up before dawn to monitor Loggerhead Turtles, count their eggs and protect their nests. Every day at 4 p.m. they shared thoughts from the day at cocktail hour. Together they went on 37 cruises throughout the world.

Millie Polk died in 2010 at Hope Hospice in Fort Myers at 77. Ben continued to volunteer at Hope and provide comfort to veterans. In 2011 he moved to South Pasadena, Fla., and spent the remainder of his life enjoying his family, expanding his collection of character watches - one of the largest in Florida, driving his favorite sports car, and enjoying the beach.

He is survived by his son, Morgan Polk, of Tampa, Fla.; his daughter, Nysha Drennan, of Springfield, Ill.; and his grandchildren, Adair, Noelle, Lucas and William Benjamin Polk, and Ali and Drake Drennan.

There will be a private service to honor Ben in St Petersburg, Fla., Fort Myers, Fla., and at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Cal.

In lieu of flowers, please donate online to American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association at www.aarda.org/donate.

Published in Print in The State Journal-Register on Oct. 5, 2014
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