Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians/Facebook
Harrison Ben, who began working for the tribe in 1976 as a juvenile officer under Chief Calvin J. Issac, walked on April 9 at the age of 81.

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Says Goodbye to Harrison Ben


The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians are saying goodbye to Harrison Ben, who began working for the tribe in 1976 as a juvenile officer under Chief Calvin J. Issac.

Ben walked on April 9, 2016 at Abrazo Central Campus in Phoenix, Arizona at the age of 81.

Visitation was held April 14 at the Standing Pine Gym in Carthage, Mississippi. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, April 16 at 2 p.m. in the Standing Pine Gym with Rev. Shelly Peoples officiating. Burial will be at the Standing Pine Cemetery.

Ben worked for the tribe until July 1994. In July 1995, he was sworn-in to his first term on the Tribal Council representing the Standing Pine Community. From July 1999 through July 2003, he served as secretary/treasurer under Chief Phillip Martin. He also held the position of vice chief twice; the first time from 2005 to 2007 (under Chief Martin) and again from 2009 to 2011 (under Chief Beasley Denson).

Throughout his years on the council, Ben served as the chair of the Veteran’s Affairs, Culture, Insurance & Investment, Children & Youth, and the Natural Resources committees.

“Our tribal community has experienced a great loss with the passing of Tribal Councilman Harrison Ben of the Standing Pine community. Mr. Ben is a long time public servant to the tribal people and respected elder of our community,” reads a post on the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Facebook page. “His wise and devoted leadership will be greatly missed by all Choctaw tribal members. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Ben family.”

Ben earned an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from Clarke Junior College in Newton, Mississippi in 1955. He then earned a bachelor’s in business management with a minor in economics from the University of Tampa in Florida in 1975.

Before working for the tribe, Ben worked as an assistant superintendent for Chata Development.

Ben was also a veteran of the United States Air Force. He enlisted in August 1955 and was discharged a Master Sergeant in September 1975.

He was preceded in death by his spouse, Mary Jane Ben-Wickson; parents, Olen and Neva Ben; and sisters, Nanny Mae Ben-Ortiz, Annie Laura Ben-Alex, and Mattie Lou Ben-Billie.

He is survived by his daughters, Gwen Ben (Austin, Texas), Karen Ben-Adams (Madison), Marion Ben-Sockey (Standing Pine); sons, Timothy Ben (Philadelphia) Gary Ben (Standing Pine) and Gregory Ben (Choctaw); sister, Josephine Ben-Schoonover; 9 grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

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