My grandfather, Ben Sutz

As I describe in my book, Ben and I became very close in his last eight years of his life. This was triggered by me becoming what I term a “functional adult,” in 1990, when I began to realize what a great man he was. One particular incident in 1995, during his 100th birthday celebration, cemented the deep bond and mutual respect we shared, when he stood up for me, after I stood up for myself, against family pressure to do something I didn’t want to. This was a man who inspired many, and represented the self-made, can-do attitude that used to define European immigrants to America.

Benjamin Sutz: 1895-1998

1992: Ben, age 97, interviewed by me on the secret to a happy marriage

1985 (age 90): Ben and Bertha celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary

1990 (age 95): Muscle man at the Sun City pool

1993 (age 98): “Woo-Hoo!”

Whenever I would go to pick up Grandpa to take him out to lunch, I’d ask him, “How are you?”  He’d respond in one of two ways: (a) he’d say, “Eh, I can’t complain, and even if I could, what good would it do?,” or, (b) he’d raise a fist in the air and give out a bellowing, “Woo-hoo!”  I asked him to do that one time for my camera:

1993: Lunch with the family, and a friend:

From left: Ben’s son Richard, wife Wink, and my friend Jeannie

 1995: Ben’s 100th birthday

With great-granddaughter, Anna

1997 (age 102): Ben and me

This picture was taken a few months after my father, Frank, Ben’s first-born son, passed away. His devastation is clearly apparent.

Ben, my grandfather and one of my best friends, passed away in March 1998 at age 102 – leaving behind a grieving family… and his two girlfriends.

Addendum 1: Ben’s memoirs

I belatedly discovered this amazing body of documents, an amazing series of memoirs that paint a more complete picture of Ben’s life.  I can only imagine the many hours that he and his daughter, June, devoted to this project (the transcription and editing task fell to the latter).  More than a story about my beloved grandfather, it is an affirmation of an earlier time, when one came to America with nothing but a dream, and through hard work, thrift and focused thought, create a good life for himself or herself.

Ben Sutz Autobiography (1992) by jonsutz

Addendum 2: Ben on the right mental attitude

A fascinating insight into this man’s mentality, and what he credits with enabling him to persevere against very significant obstacles.  This is one more of the reasons why I so adored the man, and another lesson I learned from him.

Ben Sutz on RMA by jonsutz on Scribd

Addendum 3: Articles about, and interviews with Ben, as he approached his 100th birthday.

Thanks in large part to my wonderful Aunt Wink, a veteran PR professional, there was a significant amount of local publicity for Ben’s 100th birthday celebration on October 25, 1995. Here is a sampling of the many news articles and interviews that were featured in Arizona newspapers in the weeks leading up to and after his centennial.

Articles About Ben on 100th Birthday by jonsutz on Scribd