Ben Pearson of Rudy departed this earthly life on Sunday, April 20, 2014, at his home surrounded by family and friends after a 10-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Ben was born Aug. 20, 1939, in Sikeston, Mo., to Carl and Ada Holman Pearson. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Howard "Bud" Pearson.

He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Sandra; his sons, Jason Pearson of Roland and Travis Pearson of Fort Smith; his stepchildren, John Watkins (Becky) of Rudy and Laura Nolen (Walt) of Fort Smith; six grandchildren, Ashley Duschinsky (Tony) of Fort Smith, Ryan Watkins of Rudy, Ransom Pearson of Rudy, Taylor Grill, Hunter Grill and Madison Nolen, all of Fort Smith; and two great-grandchildren, Boston and Elyn Duschinsky of Fort Smith.

Ben grew up in Lamar, graduating in 1957. He always cherished his classmates and his many friends in Lamar and Clarksville. After high school, Ben was determined to be the first in his family to go to college. He worked his way through the College of the Ozarks, graduating in 1961 and became a teacher. He taught science at the junior high and senior high level in other schools before being employed by the Van Buren School District, where he taught at Central Middle School before moving to the new Coleman Junior High School. He retired from teaching in 2001 after 34 years, with the last 26 in Van Buren. Ben was always concerned for his students and wanted the best for them. He loved explaining the intricacies of science, and the grandchildren knew never to ask him a question about science unless they had time for a detailed description.

Ben was an avid hunter and fisherman who enjoyed trips with his friends, George, John, Ray and Wilburn. He was handy with building and woodwork and made many items for his grandchildren.

Early in his career, Ben felt called to become a preacher and attended the Sunset School of Preaching in Amarillo, Texas. He preached for many years in addition to full-time teaching. His last church was the Dodson Avenue Church of Christ in Fort Smith.

Ben was an active member of Westark Church of Christ, attending regularly and being active in many facets of church life. He enjoyed visiting the homebound and ill with his friend, Earl, always pleased when he felt he had cheered the person with jokes and funny stories. He went on mission trips to Mexico, Guyana and Nigeria, enjoying the different experiences and making new friends while helping to spread the gospel. Ben lived a Christian lifestyle, being an example to his family and encouraging them to remain faithful.

He cherished his extended family of cousins and in-laws, as well as his close friends. In the last years of his life, he depended on his best friend, Wilburn Howard, for companionship and encouragement. Ben enjoyed when his family got together to celebrate special events and loved to tease and laugh. He loved his family and loved his stepchildren just as he did his sons. All the grandchildren were special to him, and before his illness, he was known as the Papaw who could do anything, often making special toys for them. He will be missed greatly by his family and friends.

Funeral service will be 2 p.m. Tuesday at Ocker Memorial Chapel in Van Buren with burial at Fairview Cemetery in Van Buren under the direction of Ocker Funeral Home in Van Buren.

Pallbearers will be his sons, Jason and Travis Pearson, John Watkins, son-in-law, Walt Nolen, and grandsons, Ransom Pearson and Hunter Grill.

In lieu of flowers, the family request donations to the Hope Chest, c/o Westark Church of Christ, 900 N. Waldron Road, Fort Smith, AR 72901.

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