Benjamin Richard Alder, 95, died June 27, 2021 in his favorite place in the world: Libby, Montana. He was a father, husband, grandfather, veteran, and dear friend to all who knew him. Originally from Ellensburg, Washington, Ben found his home on a quiet bend of the Kootenai River in Libby when he retired. As he used to say, he didn’t need to go on vacation because he was on vacation every day.
Ben is remembered as a gentle giant with a sharp intellect and love of learning. His wife of 66 years, Shirley, described him as “good to the core.”
As a high school student in Ellensburg, Ben played football and prepared tax returns seasonally. He had interest from a professional football team but stayed home to take care of his mother after his father died.
He later enlisted in the Marine Corps during World War II, where he served in a tank battalion in China. His knack for estimating long distances that he’d learned on the family farm came in handy operating the tank gun.
After the war, Ben worked on the Alaska Highway construction and later worked as a mechanic at a service station in Ballard, Washington. There, he met his lifelong friend, Jerry Allen.
As a friend to the Allen family, Ben was introduced to Jerry’s younger sister, Shirley. He sometimes had the chance to drive Shirley to school before work. Ben and Shirley eventually fell in love and married in 1954. Soon after, they had a son they named Jerry.
Ben spent 26 years as heavy equipment mechanic for Everett Steel where he worked on large industrial equipment. He loved problem solving, particularly the logistics of moving heavy equipment from one place to another.
When he retired in 1992, he and Shirley decided to leave their home in Edmonds, Washington, and ventured east to Montana. In Libby, Ben fulfilled a longtime desire to live outside the city.
Ben was active in the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and volunteered to work on several committees including Nordicfest. He spent his days reading just about anything he could get his hands on and working on projects around the house.
For his 70th birthday, his family put together a surprise party at a favorite local bar, Red Dog Saloon & Pizza. At least 40 people attended. It was enough of a crowd that some of the visitors pitched tents in Ben and Shirley’s yard. At the party, he told his son in utter astonishment, “I can’t believe all these people came for me.”
Although he’d seen almost a century, Ben’s age never restricted him. Ben would spend hours on his computer researching science and engineering and reading articles written by his granddaughter, Madison. He mowed the lawn and chopped down firewood right up until the end.
He is survived by his wife, Shirley; his son, Jerry; his daughter-in-law, Sally; and his granddaughter, Madison.
Services will be at 10:00 a.m., Thursday, July 8, 2021 at Schnackenberg Funeral Home in Libby. Online condolences and memories may be shared at www.schnackenbergfh.com.
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