John Benjamin Wearing passed away peacefully on June 18, 2022, with his wife and sons by his side.
Ben was born March 2, 1953, in Salina Kansas, to Paul and Verna Wearing. He was a graduate of Salina Central, Hutchinson Community College and Kansas State University. (EMAW, baby!)
Ben was a true news junkie. His newspaper career spanned more than 3 decades. He worked at weekly papers in Arkansas and Oklahoma before returning to his hometown to become the police beat reporter at the Salina Journal. There he worked for nearly 30 years, retiring in 2015 as the Executive Editor. During his time at the Journal, Ben was dedicated to making the daily paper accurate, interesting, and relevant to his readers. He was a natural journalist, curious and doggedly dedicated to getting the story right. As an editor, he was picky about the facts and the writing. He mentored many young reporters and students, some of whom remained in touch for years. His columns entertained readers; his editorials made them think. Many of his colleagues at the Journal became life-long friends.
Following his retirement, Ben spent even more time riding his beloved bicycles, cutting firewood, and taking over the kitchen.
Ben loved to cook and particularly to bake. His pies, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and most of all his cheesecakes were enjoyed by friends, family and colleagues for decades. Three bylines on page one earned a cheesecake.
As a journalist, Ben was cautious about getting overly involved with local organizations, wanting to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. Once retired, he joined the AMBUCS at the urging of a friend and found a home with the ramp building crew. The service project combined his love of physical labor with his love of helping others.
In 1985 Ben and Betsy Green went on a lunch date. Two days later they went to dinner and talked until the restaurant closed. A year later they were engaged. They were married three months after that, on October 10, 1987. Theirs was a true love affair. He was her strongest supporter, helpmate and best friend. He was a thoughtful gift giver and frequently bought flowers, “just because.” Together they raised three sons that were the light of Ben’s life. When they were children, Ben wrestled and played with them, read them stories and taught them to work hard. As they became young adults, he listened to them, counseled them when asked, and encouraged them to pursue their dreams.
Ben enjoyed going on walks, visiting with neighbors chatting about cool cars or bikes. He was a loving dog parent and when walking his own pups, carried treats in his pocket for the neighborhood dogs. He was the guy who mowed a neighbor’s lawn, shoveled the sidewalk, or stopped by with a chainsaw to help with a downed limb.
Ben and Betsy loved to travel – alone, with friends, and mostly with their sons. In particular, he was always up for a trip to the Mountains. Ben loved spending time with his siblings. He also loved Betsy’s family and they often traveled to spend time with them. After he was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in 2014, Ben and Betsy were determined not to let cancer dictate their lives. They did not waste a minute of the time they had left.
Ben is survived by his wife, Betsy, sons James, Bob, and Christopher; a sister, Debbie Bengtson (Ken), brothers Gary (Lorrie), Steve (Vickie), Mike (Jan), and Pat; a sister-in-law, Judy Wearing, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents; a brother, Joe; and a sister-in-law, Ellen.
Ben was a tremendous husband, father, brother, and friend. He had a great sense of humor, was patient, never judgmental and seldom displayed anger. He was a workout fanatic, a grammar expert and had great legs.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, June 25 at 1:30 at the chapel at Webster Conference Center, 2601 N. Ohio, in Salina.
Memorials to honor him can go to the Salina Breakfast Bandits AMBUCS for the ramp building project (P.O. 1952, Salina, KS 67402-1952) or to the Tammy Walker Cancer Center (c/o Salina Regional Health Foundation, P.O. Box 618, Salina, KS 67402-0618).