Ben Procter
1927 - 2012
{ "" }
Share Ben's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Ben Procter, 85, emeritus professor in history at Texas Christian University, died Tuesday, April 17, 2012, from complications of Parkinson's disease. Celebration of life: 3 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at University Christian Church, 2720 S. University Drive. Memorials: In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to the Ben Procter Scholarship at TCU, TCU Box 297044, Fort Worth, Texas 76129; or The Summerlee Foundation, 5556 Caruth Haven Lane, Dallas, Texas 75225. Ben Procter was born Feb. 21, 1927, to Hazel Barnes and Leslie Chambers Procter in Temple, where they lived until moving to Austin in 1939. Ben was the quintessential student-athlete, graduating from Austin High School in 1945 with academic honors while lettering in four sports. After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served until World War II ended. Ben entered the University of Texas in 1946 and earned membership in Phi Beta Kappa and received All Southwest Conference and All America honors in football and obtained his B.A. degree in 1951. Ben was drafted by, and played briefly with, the Los Angeles Rams before an injury led him back into education to prepare for his longtime career in teaching. Ben's degrees include B.A. and M.A. degrees at the University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Ben joined the faculty at Texas Christian University in 1957 and began a rewarding association that lasted 43 years. Ever appreciative of the excellent students that TCU attracted, Ben enthusiastically participated in bringing a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta (an honorary history fraternity) and a Ph.D. program in history to a growing TCU student enrollment. It has been estimated that he taught nearly 10,000 students in seminars and classes, which included U.S. history, Texas history and the American West. While teaching, he wrote or co-wrote numerous books and articles that brought him awards such as "Favorite Teacher," Professor of the Year, Summerfield G. Roberts Award (best book contribution to Texas history), Minnie Piper Fellow (one of 10 professors chosen each year for outstanding teaching and scholarship) and was named by TCU as an "honorary alumnus" in his retirement year of 2000. Ben belonged to and served as president of many historical associations, plus the Sons of the Republic of Texas, Distinguished Alumnus Award from Austin High School, the Longhorn Hall of Honor and was commissioned an honorary admiral in the Texas Navy. Ben was an active Democrat for more than 60 years. Ben's long and useful life will be remembered by many students and friends with great joy and appreciation. He was preceded in death by his parents; his only brother, Les; and his mother-in-law and father-in-law. Survivors: Wife of 60 years, Phoebe; and son, Ben.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Star-Telegram on Apr. 29, 2012.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Steve and Kit Schuster
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
44 entries
April 23, 2019
Ben was a great man, great teacher and good friend! We miss him
Tom Lipscomb
May 13, 2015
I was one of Dr. Procter's students at TCU and did his grading for 2 years while in graduate school there. I later taught history and used his outline of American History quite a bit down through the years. I remember having great conversations with him and Congressman Jim Wright (who later became Speaker of the House). I did not know of Dr. Procter's passing until 3 years after he had died, and I am very saddened by the fact I was not at his funeral. He was a very good man and the world is much the worse for not having him around. I am very proud to have been at his retirement reception in the library in 2000. May he rest in peace.
John R. Clark
February 7, 2014
I will always be able to say, "Dr. Ben Proctor...I Knew him". The best history professor I ever had. He taught me to think and he taught me what was important. Mrs. Proctor and Ben we will miss him.
Guy Ficeto
November 8, 2013
Ben Proctor was among the best professors I had in a long educational career. He taught me to think, not merely to relay information. I also played some handball and basketball with him. I was most always in awe and respect of him.
Jim Stovall
May 6, 2013
So sorry to here this news....And I would love to see you again Ben.
Kenneth Mellina
October 26, 2012
I have so many memories of him. All great people have red hair!
Joyce Deckler
June 3, 2012
Dr. Proctor was my teacher and mentor. I saw him several times for lunch during Ministers Week in the past few years and treasure those visits. My sincerest sympathy goes out to his family. He will always be a part of my life. I graduated from TCU in 1964 and took both sections of American history from Dr. Proctor.
Tim Griffin
May 22, 2012
Ben Proctor was a TCU legend. We will not see the likes of him again. Such a fine fellow, quick wit and distinguished teacher.
Ann Bracey
May 21, 2012
I met Ben and his wife, Phoebe, in 1984. We stayed in touch on and off after that. He was always very helpful, very encouraging to me, an independent scholar who didn't have a lot of friends in academic circles. Ben never stood on such formalities. He was a gentleman and a scholar, and he'll be sorely missed.

Taylor Coffman, San Luis Obispo, California
May 14, 2012
My thougts and prayers go out to Famly, Friends, and the other almost 10,000 students. We will miss Dr. Proctor no matter how long ago we graduated.
Lynda Worden Walter
May 11, 2012
My condolences to the family. Ben Proctor mentored me in my early days in politics. He constantly encouraged and support my education pursuit. I have often thought of him throughout the years. I will continue to be greatful for his input in my life.
Christina Slater
May 9, 2012
Jeff, Jackie, All:

Your condolences remind me of the true mentor we had in Ben Procter. Unlike Jackie Ballard and Jeff King, who commented above, I was a Chicago boy not conditioned early on in all things Texana. Honestly, LBJ kind of gave me the creeps. When I took Ben's Texas History course in '78, all things depicting a living, breathing (drinking) Sam Houston came to life. The Battle at Goliad was presented with painful clarity. He loved Texas. He revelled in the Old West. His classes followed suit and got into the action with him, perhaps with slightly less visible perspiration. His exams, though quirky, taught me how to properly address issues and put them to paper, which helped immeasurably in law school.

There were giants in the History Department in the 70's and 80's. Boller. Bohon. Tucker. But Dr. Proctor was the biggest figure of them all and his passing brings with it the end of a progressive era that will hopefully return to the campus one day.
Rick Martini
May 9, 2012
Ben and Phoebe, Please except my concolences. I will miss seeing him with Jim Wright at the Paris Coffee Shop.
With warm regards,
Julie Jones
May 6, 2012
I was a student of Dr. Procter my Freshman year, 1977-1978. He was a patient and fair, knowledgeable man. Fond memories of those days starting out at TCU. With Sincere Sympathy, Gail Smith Towe Class of 1981
Gail Towe
May 5, 2012
Ben, I just found this article on your dad today Saturday, May 5th and too late to make the recognition ceremony. I am sorry to realize that such an illustrious
career had to end in such an arduous struggle. I know that bore heavily on your life, and my thoughts and sympathies are with you.

Ken Meisner
May 5, 2012
Dr. Proctor was an inspiring teacher and a good friend to
all his students. I have thought of him often over the last fifteen years as I have tried to
be the kind of professor and scholar he wanted all of
his grad students to be. Phoebe, my prayers are with
you and your family. Ben will be missed by all whose lives
he touched.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Alexander
May 5, 2012
For Phoebe,

"Uncle Ben" as many of students would come to call him; made a dramatic and permanent affect on the lives of his students. This they each passed along to their students. Ben's life of teaching will therefore, continue on in those who have learned from his compassion and brilliance in teaching.

Kit Blumenstein-Schuster
Kit Blumenstein-Schuster
May 5, 2012

We are so sorry for your loss. Ben was a great teacher and influence on his students! His life and work had an impact on many.
Lou Ann Lipscomb
May 5, 2012
Please know that you have my deepest sincere heartfelt prayers at this time. I will never forget Dr. Procter... An excellent historian and blessed man... Always told me the truth... Treasure the memories... God is in control... Prayers of Peace surround you....
Roy LaVerne Brooks
May 4, 2012
I was one of the many who was privileged to have Dr.Proctor as my History prof. He made history come alive and when he walked in the classroom, you best be prepared to have notebook and pen ready because you would miss something if you did not start at the beginning! No one "walked" even if Dr.Proctor was a few minutes late. He was certainly in the Professor Hall of Fame!
Barbara McCoy '62
Barbara McCoy
May 4, 2012
Phoebe -- I'm so sorry to learn of your loss.

Freeman Stallings
May 3, 2012
Dr. Procter (along with Bohon, Reuter, Tucker et al.) attempted to instill in us the kind of critical thinking that is so important if we are to understand how we might learn from the past in order not to repeat the same mistakes. Regrettably, as the headlines attest, I'm afraid we have not heeded those lessons.

He will be sorely missed.
Scott D'Amico, History/Poli Sci '83
May 3, 2012
Dear Phoebe and Ben:

Dr. Procter was a singular man -- no one else like him. Though he was tough on us students we could see that you two were his foundation and his wellspring.

He was a loving guy, too -- ask any of his students. I don't think that he ever pushed us any harder than he did himself. His [outwardly stern] direction was usually delivered with a good bit of humor.

He was a fair and honorable man -- one whom I've admired for over twenty years.

My thoughts are with you.
Page Foshee
May 2, 2012
Dearest Phoebe and Ben:
We always enjoyed seeing you and Daddy Ben come into the office and loved his stories, wit and intellect.

My deepeset condolences to you and Ben.

He was really a great guy.

God Bless!

Anne Page
Washington, DC
Anne Page
May 1, 2012
I will always be grateful to have received the lifelong benefits of Dr. Procter's excellent teaching. An earlier post mentioned that he "genuinly cared for others." I cannot express it better.

Thank you, Dr. Procter. May you rest in peace.

With sincere sympathy to the family,

Ann Tillery Edmonds, TCU '67
Ann Edmonds
May 1, 2012
Phoebe, my love to you and family. You know Ben is the reason I have spent my life teaching history and your grace and editing were very much part of it. I send my thoughts and thanks. We all know he has a few words to say at the gates. Blessings, Barbara Evans Chowning
Dr. Barbara Evans
April 30, 2012
Dr. Procter was a special friend and had a very positive impact on my life. His wife and son have also been special friends to me for many years. God grant him peace for eternity.
Marilyn Gabler
April 30, 2012
We have not been in touch for a long time but we do morn Ben's death and send you all our love and sympathy. Ann and Ed Hudson
Edward Hudson
April 30, 2012
Ben was the best: a wonderful professor, enthusiastic fisherman, opinionated Democrat and, most of all, a person who genuinely cared for others. His secret weapon? Phoebe, his Rock of Gibraltar. "Bulldog Drummond" will miss you always. God bless you and your family.
Jack Ballard
April 30, 2012
Sorry to hear about your father Ben. My wife and I wish for you all the strength and peace God will grant as you go on with your life and his legacy.
PHS #71
Bill Fielding
April 30, 2012
Back in 1976 and 1977, Dr. Procter poked and prodded my undergrad brain, challenged my preconceived notions, and forced me to think for myself. Though I didn't always agree with his viewpoints, Dr. Procter seemed to relish, even thrive upon, divergent thoughts from his students.
He was a remarkable teacher and I will never forget him.
A grateful Frog
April 30, 2012
I always loved Dr. Procter's classes. You could just tell he loved history and brought it to life for his students. My condolences to his family. He was one of the reasons one of my majors was history!

Sue Wilkinson Medford
April 29, 2012
We losted a good man my prayers for you (Phoebe)and Ben Jr my Friends
April 29, 2012
Ben Procter was among the most respected and admired members of the history profession in Texas. He will be missed by students, colleagues and other historians around the state. May he rest in peace.
Donald R. Walker, Texas Tech University
Donald Walker
April 29, 2012
I was one of the lucky ones----Ben Proctor taught me how to write essays tests and made me into a good history student and this ultimately led me to a master's degree in history and a long career in teaching. My most cherished memory, however, is being able to accompany him and Mrs. Proctor to the parking lot outside the Texas Hotel on November 22, 1963, to see President John F. Kennedy. The day before, when class was over, he said that the first five of us who made it up to his desk could accompany them to see the President the next day. I was one of the five and will forever be grateful that I was in the crowd that morning. My condolences to Mrs. Proctor and Ben, Jr. and the rest of the family. He was a great teacher and will live always in my memory.
Mary Catherine Monroe
April 29, 2012
Lake Texoma 5-4-95
Rest in peace my friend and Handball mentor. I know you will be giving them a lesson or two in HB heaven! I'm so thankful for the time we had on and off the court.
Our heartfelt condolences to Phoebe and family. Karen & Howard
Howard McPherson
April 29, 2012
Dr. Procter was my favorite professor at TCU, and my favorite class was History of the American West...ending a day devoted to the clash between the Comanche and the settlers, he would begin a tale of torture, and then say, "no, you'll have to wait until next time, but believe me, don't come if you have a weak stomach." We couldn't wait. I made a 99 in that class and I earned every point. What a wonderful academic experience. My condolences to the Procter family, he was a great man, a true inspiration.
Jeff King
April 29, 2012
A great teacher and man. You will be missed by all who knew you.
Bryan Newell
April 29, 2012
Dr. Proctor was the most important mentor in
my college life, and my inspiration as an educator. Great times were had at his home as
we graded papers and ate popcorn. I have never
stopped talking about him or using him as a reference from the lectures I still vividly
remember. He has been a gift to young people,
unforgetable and ready to open the world in
which we live. His favorite phrase, while not
completely telling a story was this...I just
tell 'em, I don't explain 'em". Thank God I
knew him.
Jackie Bell
April 29, 2012
My heartfelt condolences to the family.

Rest in peace, Dr. Procter.
Charlie Eklund
April 29, 2012
I only knew Dr. Procter after his retirement. He was very dear to me.

Melanie Peoples
April 29, 2012
Dr. Ben Proctor was an outstanding historian, a remarkable leader and an expert on Texas politics. I first met him almost 40 years ago. I enjoyed every interaction with him and treasure the memories of our conversations. We have lost one of our great ones in Texas higher education!
Lanny Hall
April 29, 2012
Dr. Procter was, without a doubt, one of the best (and toughest) teachers that I've ever had. He made me look at things in a different way. I took "History fo the American West" from Dr. Procter and learned a lot, not only about the American west but also about how to look at history through the eyes of the people living it. He made history come alive. My condolences to the family. It was an honor to be able to have him as a teacher.
Sharon Hidden
April 29, 2012
Dr. Proctor you will be missed but you touched so many student's lives and made a difference that your legacy will live on. As a graduate student, I was energized and fascinated by your lectures and today I re-tell many of the great stories you wove into your class lecture that make history come alive. My students thus continue to benefit from your passion and knowledge so another generation is touched by your love of history and willingness to share. You also helped so many of us secure our own jobs in the profession so that we can continue your legacy. Thank you for all of your support and dedication.
Laura Matysek Wood
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences