Ben Roark Shrum of Gallatin TN and State College, PA passed away November 22, 2023 at the age of 99 in the James E. Van Zandt Veterans' Administration Medical Center in Altoona, PA. He would have been 100 in January and he stated he was ready to see what was on the next page.
Ben was born the sixth of seven children to Hattie and Ike Shrum in Bethpage, TN. His birth and step families were split up during the depression, and Ben grew up with the family of Jim and Fanny Hix in Gallatin. He worked on the family farm and then Kraft Foods in Gallatin until he joined the US Army during World War II. In the Army, he served with the 738th Medium Tank Battalion, Special, in the Ardennes, Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. His Sherman tank was one of the tanks guarding the bridges at Remagen as the Allies prepared to cross the Rhine into Germany. After the war, he returned to Gallatin, resumed working at Kraft Foods, and met and married Iris Lonnell Reed (Lonnell). In subsequent years, their son Joe Donald (Don) and daughter Judy Carol were born.
Ben worked at Kraft until the plant closed and then worked as a self-employed handyman until he retired. When Lonnell passed away in 2006, he moved to State College, PA and lived with his daughter Judy Mudgett and her husband David. In retirement, Ben loved to travel, do gardening and talk with the neighbors, and fix things - and was very active until recently.
Ben was preceded in death by his mom Hattie, his dad Ike, his sisters Louella and Mary, his brothers Thomas, Hendry, Charlie, and John, and his one and only love - his wife of almost 56 years, Lonnell - and many lifelong friends.
Ben is survived by his son Don and his daughter Judy (David Mudgett), granddaughters Christina (Jason Garza) and Carolyn (Brandon Wagner), and one great grandson Jason Garza Jr (JJ), as well as many nieces and nephews. Ben was a gentle, kind man and will be greatly missed.
Ben will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery at a future date. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to veterans’ organizations. Ben was a proud military veteran, and the family wishes to pay special tribute to the men and women of the James E. Van Zandt Veterans' Administration Medical Center in Altoona, PA.