Ben D. Bollinger
1938 - 2018
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July 4, 1938 - October 17, 2018 We all lost a music visionary, a devoted family man and a world-renowned educator on Oct. 17, as Ben D. Bollinger passed away at age 80 in Pomona, Calif. Ben, born on July 4, 1938 in Anaconda, Mont., was the oldest of five children and 54 grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents Ben and Anne (Haffey) and brother Don. He is survived by his wife, Lois, his four children: Bo (Laura), Mark (Tiff), Mick (Toni) and Mindy (Brian); as well as 10 grandchildren: Rhett, Sarah (Brad), Chelsea, Danny, Patrick, Austin, Dylan, Jessica, Rhys and Faith; two step-grandchildren: Ella and Lucy; and two great-grandchildren: Stella and Wesley. In addition to his wide-ranging musical talents, Ben, or "Benny Dan" as he was known by his family, was a star athlete growing up in Montana, once throwing a no-hitter on the same day as his father who pitched semi-professionally, but football was his passion and best sport. At age 17, the family moved from Anaconda to Glendora, Calif., where Ben spent most of his adult life. Ben was a three-sport athlete at Citrus Union High School, graduating in 1956 before enrolling at Citrus Community College. It was at Citrus College where he met his wife, Lois, and they married on Aug. 13, 1960 at Holy Angels in Arcadia. He also continued to play football in college and earned his Associate of Arts degree in 1958 before transferring to the University of Southern California, which had always been his dream. Ben planned to be a dentist, but after injuring his knee in spring football practice, changed his major to music education with minors in voice and opera. He performed in several operas at USC's Bovard Auditorium and the Shrine Auditorium, including classics such as The Ballad of Baby Doe, The Barber of Seville, Simon Boccanegra, Manon Lescaut and Otello. A member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, Ben made lifelong friends at USC and remained connected to USC athletics throughout his life, especially the football and basketball programs. After USC, Ben turned down opportunities to sing opera abroad, including a Fulbright Scholarship to perform in Europe, instead opting to raise his growing family and acting as the chair of the fine arts department at Ramona High School from 1962-68. Ben returned to Citrus that Fall as a full-time instructor, beginning his incredible 37-year run that transformed the college and made it one of the preeminent music programs in the country. Ben created the Citrus Singers in '68, and under his leadership, the "Singers" became one of the most highly decorated choral groups internationally, winning countless music festivals around the globe, including being the only American choir to win all three categories of the International Choral Festival in Spittal, Austria, in 1979. In 1970, the Citrus Singers made their first trip to Hawaii, which became a regular occurrence with performances there every other year. The Citrus Singers also performed in countless countries under Ben's tutelage, including Russia, Spain, Norway, Great Britain, Denmark, Japan, Austria, Uruguay, Argentina, Poland and Brazil. The Citrus Singers became the most prominent collegiate singing group in Southern California, performing at major events in the Los Angeles area, including Super Bowl VII at the Coliseum, the Rose Parade, Opening Day at Dodger Stadium, the grand opening of Ontario Motor Speedway in 1970, Richard Nixon's campaign stop at Ontario Airport in 1972 and the opening of the Los Angeles Marriott in 1973. Affectionally called "Mr. B" by his students, the Citrus Singers performed in front of several local and national politicians, including President Nixon, President Dwight Eisenhower and President George H.W. Bush. He was also credited on the 1978 solo album of Gene Simmons of Kiss fame with a select group of the Citrus Singers providing backup vocals. Ben also served as choral director at several churches throughout the course of his career, including Hollywood Presbyterian Church. He earned many honors along the way, including being named a Citrus College Distinguished Alumni in 1979-80 and being named Glendora's Citizen of the Year in 1980. Ben was also a successful businessman, opening the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater in 1985. He created the idea on the back of a napkin and helped make the dream a reality at the old Claremont gymnasium where he had played basketball in '56. The 299-seat dinner theater, run by his son Mick and daughter Mindy, has become an Inland Empire institution and one of the longest continuously run and highest grossing dinner theaters in the country. After his 37 years at Citrus College, he retired in 2005 with a ceremony at Santa Anita Park, as he was a fixture at the racetrack with a box at the finish line. He was the acting dean of fine and performing arts at the time of his retirement and was honored as a Citrus College Faculty Emeritus. Ben was larger than life to those who knew him, as he commanded a room with his stature and charisma. He was known for his amazing story-telling abilities and humor, as his memory and wit were unmatched. Music, sports and traveling remained his major passions throughout his life, but at his heart, he was a family man and was proud of the legacy he created with his wife, Lois. In lieu of flowers, donations in Ben's honor can be made to the Citrus College Foundation, Casa Colina Hospital or City of Hope. Donations to the Citrus College Foundation should be sent to Citrus College, Attn: John Vaughan, Visual and Performing Arts Division, 1000 W. Foothill Blvd., Glendora, CA 91741. Donations to Casa Colina should be made via, and donations to City of Hope via

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Published in Los Angeles Times on Oct. 24, 2018.
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17 entries
January 13, 2019
I took his voice class back in 93 and I was amazed at the way he was able to show the students how to overcome difficulties they had singing. One young lady had a very soft voice and he showed her how to project it. Another young man had a cleft pallet and he showed him how to sing around it.I had wanted to be a part of the recording arts center that was to be built. I had a private meeting with him about it. He told me that when I saw the small classrooms being torn down to see him and be a part of what was happening. By the time Citrus started building I had moved on to PCC to learn radio broadcasting. I'm glad I got to know him for that short time.
Casey A
January 13, 2019
Casey Alfaro
December 30, 2018
Mr. Bollinger appreciated hard work and expected everyone's best efforts I had the privilege to be in Mr. Bollinger's Citrus Singers and his choir at Citrus College and when he conducted the church choir in Glendora. I have missed performing under Mr. Bollinger's great leadership and direction. A truly confident and classy man. Mr. Bollinger will surely be missed. James Willert
James Willert
November 3, 2018
I am truly sorry for your loss, I did not get the change to meet Ben in this life time, but he sounds like he was a very special person on this earth. My deepest condolences
Lisa Jimenez
October 27, 2018
Ben was one of the great men that I worked with at the Citrus Collage Theatre. He always treated Rachel and I with respect. He was fun to work with, how many directors let a 3 year old run around during rehersel, and he always knew what he was doing in that Theatre. We both loved him.
Marsha Swayze
October 27, 2018
I am sorry to hear of bens passing I was in his choir from 1990-1995 and learned so much from his choral expertise
bill hudson
October 27, 2018
I am so sorry for your great loss. May the God who "binds up the broken hearted" and "comforts all who mourn" sustain your family during this challenging time. (Isaiah 61:1, 2) With heartfelt sympathy
October 26, 2018
We will greatly miss his smile and jokes at the West Covina Infusion room. He always had a story, or joke for us that made our day. It was an honor and privilege to treat him. May he rest in peace. Our condolences to His wife and family.

West Covina infusion nurses
jessica moody
October 26, 2018
Ken & Judy Griffing
October 25, 2018
My condolences to the family of Ben Bollinger Mr B as he was affectionately known. I met Mr B in 1978 through my high school choir director at Eisenhower Hiigh School and what a wonderfully lasting impression he left on me and all who knew him. Thank you for sharing your gift of song with all of us. You will forever be in my heart. Prayers and blessings to your beautiful wife Lois and loving family.
Sandra Tapp
October 25, 2018
Ben Bollinger Ramona High Madrigals -1968
I've always had fond memories of Mr. Bollinger from being in the Ramona High Madrigals for three years. Even wrote a story making several references to him a few years ago. Lately, I've been praying for his best, not knowing his situation. He was like an older brother to many of us.
Peter Pearson
October 25, 2018
Peter Pearson
October 24, 2018
A wonderful man who was a friend of my father--also a professor at Citrus--and who gave a lovely tribute at Dad's funeral. I know he was loved by many and will always live on in so many hearts and minds.

A clip from the LA Times, 1980:
October 24, 2018
One of the nicest man I could ever meet I'm glad our paths crossed you always treated me great at the top of the park and I know you're in a better place and maybe I'll see you again someday
October 24, 2018
BZ performing for an audience of 2,000. Raising it up for Mr. B!
Mr. B, as we called him at Ramona High, gave my life meaning, spiritual depth, and a sincere, life-long love of classical choral music. Other than my own parents, no other adult has had such a lasting impact on my life. I became a professional performer, in large part because of the skills and confidence that I gained in Concert Choir. I learned to understand liturgy and to be a pretty good sight-reader of music! A day does not go by when I do not tell my friends, my family, my grandchildren about the man who carved my love of music and so much more. He was a rock, a tower, a hero for so many young people. Blessings on Dr. Bollinger's family. May his legacy continue.
BZ Smith
October 24, 2018
Rest in peace, Mr. Bollinger....You always treated me well as a young man. My condolences to the Bollinger family...
Dave Mack
October 24, 2018
My condolences to the family and friends of Ben D. Bollinger. May you have hope and comfort - John 6:40 during this most difficult time. D. Hamilton
D Hamilton
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