Ben served as a gunnery officer on the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Wichita during World War II. He saw major combat in Okinawa and other open sea battles. The “Old Witch” was one of the first ships to arrive in Nagasaki harbor after the bomb blast. His flotilla rescued close to 10,000 Allied prisoners in the region.
After the war, Ben completed law school at UT-Austin and worked as a prosecuting attorney for the Department of Justice in Kansas City. Later, he practiced law for 60 years in Corpus Christi and Austin. During his term as mayor of Corpus Christi in 1961-1963, he passed civil rights ordinances regarding employment, housing and public accommodations and formed the first Human Relations Commission in the southern U.S. He was a long-time rancher and businessman and co-founded Doctors Regional Hospital in Corpus Christi. He loved to hunt, fish and travel widely and was a Master Mason, 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason, York Rite Mason, member of York Rite College and Shriner.
Ben is survived by four children: Chris McDonald (Sharon) of Beeville, TX; Molly McDonald-Ogden (Jon) of Austin; Amanda McDonald Buckalew (Bob) of Austin; Kevin McDonald (Tammy) of Corpus Christi. Grandchildren include Karyna, Kristen, Brandon, Cameron, Samantha, Zoe, Anna, Carter, Emma, and Landon. He is survived by his cherished sister Mary Mae Hartley of Austin. He is also survived by extended family: David Bivens, Lynette Beasley and husband Jason, and Kirsten, Kyle, and Kelsey.
Memorial service was held July 24th. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Ben’s preferred charities—Mission of Mercy, P.O. Box 8341, CC, TX 78468 or the Humane Society.