Benjamin F. Yale, better known as Ben, always wanted to be in a position to help out.
Yale died at 11:58 p.m. June 13. The Waynesfield native had his hands involved in a lot of activity in the area.
However, Yale often operated behind the scenes and did not want any attention to himself, friends say. It was that trait, a quiet humbleness, they say that made him so well known.
“He stayed behind the scenes,” said Waynesfield resident Pat Noykos, who served with Yale on the Muchinippi Theatre Group board. “But all you had to do was pick up the phone. There wasn’t a better guy around. He will be sorely missed.”
The son of Edith (Dancy) and E. Benjamin Yale was born in Lima Sept. 4, 1951, and was one of five children. He had two children, David Yale, who now lives in San Jose, Calif., and Jennifer Kidd, who lives in West Chester. His wife, Bonnie, survives at their residence.
Yale received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University and then his juris doctorate from Ohio Northern University.
Yale owned Yale Law Office and had grown his business to the point to where he was one of the most recognizable lawyers coast to coast in the dairy industry. He represented Select Milk Producers Inc. and Continental Dairy Products Inc. and their family of companies. His impact on the industry was reflected when many people in the industry reflected on his death on prgoressivedairy.com.
However, his most important work was done within the community itself, friends and family said.
Yale was a board member for the Muchinippi Theatre Group and the Waynesfield Community Foundation. He also was involved with the Community Trail Project with the Waynesfield-Goshen Local School District, which planted trees in memory of community members.
His impact on Waynesfield was felt at a celebration of life service held Tuesday at the high school, as nine people stood and reflected on the man.
“He was humble and authentic,” his daughter said. “He connected with people regardless of their status.”
His son said Ben Yale had the ability to see the best in people.
“He would see other people and the potential that was within them,” David said. “He would help them achieve that. He wanted the people of Waynesfield to have that kind of pride. He loved this town and always saw the best in it.”
Yale grew up in the Waynesfield Baptist Church, where he had served as both a deacon and a Sunday School teacher. Reflecting on what Yale did for the church, the Rev. Don Smith told attendees at the service that he “gave in many ways that people will never know.”
“He was very giving,” Jennifer said. “I think there are things even my mother probably don’t know.”
Yale was noted for wanting to help people succeed. Family members heard of several instances of that Tuesday during the service. For example, a lawyer reflected just starting out as a young female lawyer, and Ben taking her under his wing and helping her get started. She told the family he treated her like his own daughter. Another 14-year-old told the family about Yale handing him down advice to get his own lawn mower business started.
“He always took the time to help other people, no matter how busy he was,” Jennifer said.
Yale was a third generation valedictorian in the Yale family. Both his children, Jennifer and David, made that four generations. Yale was honored as a distinguished alumni during high school graduation in 2011.
Auglaize County Common Pleas Court Judge Fred Pepple, who grew up as a friend with the Yale family, remembered Yale as being a well-rounded man.
“He was a fascinating man,” Pepple said. “He was very humble and was not a grandstander. He was very, very conscientious and was a deep thinker. I think the biggest thing I noticed though was he was a committed Christian, always even as a young man. He was a quiet guy who served God in his own way.”
Yale was also an avid photographer, and many of his pictures were on display at services Tuesday and during visitation hours Sunday and Monday.