Bennie Elmore "Ben" Lancaster

Bennie Elmore "Ben" Lancaster, age 97, of 727 Jackson St., Roanoke Rapids, NC died Saturday, January 24, 2009 surrounded by his loving family.

Mr. Lancaster was a Nash County native. He was born in the town of Castalia, NC on January 15, 1912 to John E. and Mattie Louise Lancaster. He was the youngest of four sons; Sid, Will, and Roy who preceded him in death.

Ben graduated from Castalia High School and continued his schooling at Georgia-Carolina School of Commerce, graduating with a degree in Business and Accounting.

He married his school and town sweetheart, Courtney Manette Bartholomew of Castalia, NC. They moved to Roanoke Rapids on January 1, 1934, where he was employed by Leggett’s Department Store as Shoe Department Manager and Buyer. He worked in that capacity for eight years.

In 1941 He was employed by the Roanoke Rapids Sanitary District as Supt. of Water and Sewer Operations. He also, at the request of the City Council, worked with the City’s Recreation Dept. as a member of the Recreation Board of Commissioners for several years, during which time the T. J. Davis Recreation Building and swimming pool was erected and put in operation.

The Sanitary District and City expanded to limits on the east, west and south to their present locations at the same time, and the District built new sewer lines in most of the new limits. The Water Treatment plant increased from 1.5 million to 4 million gallons per day.

A new office building was erected on Hamilton Street. The American Water Works recognized the Sanitary District as having one of the cheapest water rates in the nation. He was very proud of that recognition.

Ben served as one of the original Board Members of CADA for several years. A new office was opened in the town of Halifax, NC and he was appointed Chairman of that Board. He enjoyed his work with CADA and helping people in need. His friends labeled him as a "people person" for his good work.

He was a member of the Roanoke Rapids Rotary Club for 63 years, holding all offices in the local club.

The Roanoke Rapids Jaycees honored him by giving the "1974 Boss of the Year" award to him for his services in the Roanoke Rapids area and county of Halifax.

He was a member of the Rosemary Baptist Church, serving on the Board of Deacons and Chairman of the Building Committee when the first Sunday school annex building was erected.

The Halifax County Board of Commissioners requested his services to be chairman of their water installments for the countywide water for extending water services throughout the county. The vote passed and they now had a countywide system.

Dr. T. W. Long of Roanoke Rapids, with the help of the NC State Dept. of Health, organized a Malaria control program for the City of Roanoke Rapids, NC and surrounding areas to try to eliminate the Malaria mosquito and breeding places. At Dr. Long’s request, Ben was hired to carry out and supervise the program as proposed. Drainage areas and house spraying were put in effect as planned, and the Mosquito Program became effective as planned. Part of the original plan is still in operation by the city street department and is effective.

After thirty-eight years as Superintendent of the Roanoke Rapids Sanitary District, Ben retired January 1, 1980.

Ben was preceded in death by his wife of seventy-five years, Courtney Manette Bartholomew Lancaster, who passed away October 9, 2007.

He leaves behind one son, Benjamin Maxwell "Maxie" Lancaster and his wife, Louise, of Roanoke Rapids; one daughter, Ann L. Henley and her husband, Rev. Robert Henley, of Sevierville, TN; four grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; three great great-grandchildren; four step grandchildren; and eight step great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. in the chapel of Askew Funeral & Cremation Services, 731 Roanoke Ave., Roanoke Rapids, with Rev. Tom Bodkin officiating. Interment will follow in Cedarwood Cemetery in Roanoke Rapids.

The family will receive friends Monday, January 26, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Rosemary Baptist Church, 936 Jackson St., Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870 or Home Health & Hospice of Halifax Co., 1229 Julian Allsbrook Hwy, Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870.

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Askew Funeral & Cremation Services  •  731 Roanoke Avenue   Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870  •  252-537-8888