Friday, May 11, 2018

The legacy of Ben Bumbry

BEN BUMBRY WENT to a better place this week. He was 86. He was a Quincy icon and legend, and he'll be sorely missed.

When I moved to news at The Whig in 1999, I was told to get to know certain people. Ben was one of them. I did a story about him, maybe for a special section, focusing on his days playing basketball at Quincy College and Drake University. Ben went through a lot during those Jim Crow days and had a lot of experiences with discrimination and civil rights, but he was never bitter about it. He served on City Council and was the director of the Jackson-Lincoln Swimming Complex. He and his wife, Helen, were two of the best people you could ever meet.

Around here we tend to name a lot of things after Jackson and Lincoln, and rightly so - Lincoln might be the most famous human who ever lived, and his ties to this area are significant. But I really think we ought to name the swimming pool after Ben - he spent many hours over there and it wasn't an easy job.

He was also a musician and played drums in Ben Bumbry & The Messengers. They were fixtures on the Mark Twain Riverboat in Hannibal and played all the time. I watched some YouTube videos of his band and you could see the joy he had when playing.

Tonight the Cheeseburgers play at Revelry, and we will tip one or two to Ben. His band played in there many times. He had a huge impact on us all, and I am glad I got to know him a little bit. Peace to Ben's family - he will be remembered around here for a long time.

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