Ben Thompson 1923-2017
The Central States Archaeological Societies has lost
one of its pioneer members and most ardent supporters.
No one has a longer period of service to the organization
than Ben and I doubt if anyone ever will. He served
as Secretary-Treasurer of the Greater St. Louis Archaeological
Society in 1964 and 1965 and became Editor-In-Chief
of the journal 1966, a position he held through 1970.
In 1971 he became Business Manager and served in that
capacity until 1984. He served as Assistant Editor
and was on the Editorial Staff from 1984 until 2004.
So, he served in various offices for 38 years.
In his role as Editor and Business Manager Ben attended the annual CSASI business
meetings for many years. Representatives from various states came and went
but Ben was a stabilizing force because of his long knowledge of the organization
and the respect the representatives had for him. Some of the meetings got a
little boisterous at times but Ben was always able to smooth the waters. When
the meetings were in St. Louis Ben and Marsha usually had an open house for
out of state visitors which was a treat for the visitors.
Ben did much more than serve in the offices he held.
He encouraged me to take on the job of Editor-in-Chief
in 1986, a job I held for over 10 years. I would
not have taken the job without his encouragement and support. After my stint,
he encouraged John Crowley to edit the journal and John did it for several
years. Likewise, Ben persuaded Richard Watts to serve as Business Manager
many years and later got Terry Goette to take over as Business Manager. So
not only did Ben do much of the lifting himself, he is personally responsible
for several other people taking on jobs for CSASI. He did the same thing
for the Greater St. Louis Archaeological Society,
encouraging many people to serve
as officers over the years. He also encouraged people at artifact shows who
had an interesting personal find to submit a story about it for the journal.
Many journal pages are the result of Ben taking an interest in an artifact
of someone he didn’t know and in his friendly way, getting them to submit
an article or picture.
Throughout the years that John Crowley and I served
as Editor Ben was on the editorial staff and for
each journal we met at the home of someone on the
staff (often Floyd Ritter or Dale Van Blair) to review the journal before
it was printed. Ben played an active role in reviewing
each journal and the combined
knowledge of the editorial staff resulted in journals with few errors. It
was always a pleasure to have the review meetings
at Ben and Marsha’s. They
were great hosts and the work of the journal review was followed with seeing
new additions to Ben’s collection and enjoying the treats Marsha provided.
Ben’s interest was not limited to stone age artifacts, he also had
a very impressive ethnographic collection.Ben held several jobs as a young
man and his final
job was as Quality Engineer for the Chrysler
Corporation, a job he held for 30 years. He retired
55 and spent the rest of his life collecting and dealing in Indian artifacts.
He was also active in the Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite, Kirkwood, MO
Park Board, and he served on the Board of Directors
of the Cahokia Mounds Museum
Ben passed away on December 17, 2017. He was born
on May 1, 1923, the youngest of 7 children. His
father collected artifacts and Ben started collecting
a young age. Ben married Marsha Gordon in 1946 and they had more than 65
years together until her passing. He is survived
by two children, Joe and Rachel,
four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. In 2010 Ben and Marsha moved
to a retirement villa at Friendship Village and he passed away in their nursing
Ben was one of the gentleman collectors, usually
neatly dressed in a western jacket and string necktie
at shows. He had a true love of artifacts and was
fascinated by the people who made them. Those who knew him are lucky and
those who didn’t meet him missed a wonderful man.
Submitted by Alan Banks