Remembering Ben Wilder

Ben Wilder died yesterday in Florida, from complications of cancer.

Ben Wilder and his son Eddie

Ben Wilder and his son Eddie

Ben was well known to many in Westport, where he raised 4 boys. His home was a haven to many of his sons’ friends, where they were always welcomed with food (Ben was a superb cook), sage advice (Ben was a surrogate father to many), and no-questions asked, but firm, love.

Ben was an avid supporter of his sons Rob and Tom’s WSA and Staples soccer careers, and of Eddie’s Staples Players productions.

He was one of the real good guys. And Christmas Eve has not been the same in Westport, since Ben moved away.

His son Eddie  sent along these memories:

My father was the man who raised 4 boys after my mom Joan passed when I was 13. He was the man who taught me everything about compassion, unconditional love, kindness, acceptance, generosity, how to drive stick shift, cook, clean, and what it means to be a decent human being.

He was a father to those who didn’t have one. His house was always open to all. He was the life of the party.

A young Ben Wilder.

A young Ben Wilder.

I talked to him every day, and he would answer the phone with a different name or accent.

He made me listen to the classics like Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Henny Youngman, Mel Brooks, and he taught me what it meant to have a sense of humor. We could quote “Young Frankenstein” for hours.

He was the greatest supporter of the arts — the ultimate cast mom/dad. He never missed a show or Candlelight Concert. He always loved Staples Players.

He always said I was his best friend later in life. After raising 4 boys aptly named “Wilder,” may he truly rest in peace.

8 responses to “Remembering Ben Wilder

  1. Barbara Sherburne '67

    Lovely sentiment from Eddie. There is Eddie, Tom, and Rob mentioned. Who is the fourth son?

  2. The oldest son is Richard.

  3. Ben Wilder wasn’t one of the good guys… He was one of the great guys!!! Any time I saw him he always could make you smile… I will always have fond memories of Mr. Wilder RIP

  4. Nadine Tanen

    Very sad news.

  5. Judy Luster

    Eddie, I remember when your mother died. Rob was taking C. W. Drama with me at the time and he wrote some pretty powerful pieces while he was working through his grief. If he still has those pieces, you should ask to read them.

    I never met your father but you words fill me with admiration for him. I am deeply sorry for your loss but so thankful you had such a man in your life that you called Dad.

    I hear you are entertaining folks at Disney World. Bringing joy to others seems to suit you. I’m sure your father was proud of you, Rob and his other sons. RIP to your father and to the rest of you, remember how loved and blessed you’ve been and how those memories will live forevever in your hearts and in your laughter.

  6. Christina (Constantikes) Lawrence

    As you know we spent a lot of time over at your house (mostly in the pool!!) but I did have some intense conversations with your Dad at pivotal times in my life. I remember that when my father didn’t know what to do with me, he would say, “Well then go across the street and ask Ben what he thinks”. Your Dad was truly amazing, very insightful and always very honest… So sorry to hear this,,, We All are thinking of you All and sending much love; next door neighbors for life, The Constantikes Family, Joan, Andrea, Tina, Pat and Amy

  7. Stacy Waldman Bass

    All of these kind comments have me in tears– feeling very sad for Rob and his brothers and for the loss of such a wonderful man. I spent countless hours (and ate countless meals) at the Wilder’s house and always looked forward to seeing Mr. Wilder who never failed to greet me with a smile, a hug and a genuine interest. He called me Stacy Macy (and anything else that rhymed) and I was so glad to have been able to keep in touch with him over the years. They say you never forget your first love. True. But you also never forget your first love’s…. FATHER. Especially when he was such an extraordinary, generous and loving person. He always made me feel welcome and safe and was there for so many of us during our (often complicated) high school years. He will be missed and remembered with love.

  8. Adriane Heine

    Always in awe of how he did it alone, and did it better than most the parents we knew. What a man! So sorry you guys had to lose him. May he grace heaven with his wit and charm.