Mass of Christian Burial for Benjamin Ganje, 65, of Eagle Butte was at 11 a.m., Saturday, November 4, 2017 at All Saints Catholic Church in Eagle Butte. Burial was at the Eagle Butte Cemetery under the direction of Kesling Funeral Home of Mobridge. A Scriptural Wake service was at 7 p.m., Friday at the church. Benjamin passed away Saturday, October 28, 2017 at the Rapid City Regional Hospital.
Benjamin Jon Ganje was born on Homestead Avenue in Eagle Butte, S.D February 16, 1952. His parents, Ben and Marjorie Kinning Ganje owned and operated the Eagle Butte News. He grew up making his way between his home and the newspaper shop on Main Street. Playing in the stockyards, watching his dad “ump” for games in the park, and chasing balls at the golf course, Jon knew every inch of Eagle Butte, above and below the ground.
As a teenager, Jon continued his exploration of his hometown, taking many “mains” in his Mercury Cougar. An appreciation of mechanics and cars was fostered at his Uncle Buzz’s Standard Station. A tendency toward a wild side was somewhat tempered by a year at St. Mary’s Catholic School in New England, N.D. (where, years later, the nuns still remembered him).
Although Jon lived and worked in other places, he spent his life in Eagle Butte. His was a life of commitment—to his family, his community and his friends. He began his career creating the infrastructures that allow us all to grow and flourish as a community. Building the pipelines that carried water to Eagle Butte for the first time, and making sure the sewers and water mains were working properly, the jobs he chose to do were not glamorous nor particularly exciting. They were tough, grueling, and often dirty, taking long hours in all kinds of weather.
The lights of a snowplow at 4 a.m. after a blizzard, or the sound of a street sweeper announced that Jon’s workday had begun. Before the rest of us were awake, he was making sure our children could get to school, roads to the hospital were passable, driveways were cleared so the doors of main street businesses could open, and the park and golf course mowed so others would have a place to play.
Who would have blamed him if after diabetes, several organ transplants, a heart attack, and cancer, he would have taken early retirement, just sat in his easy chair and read his newspaper? But Jon couldn’t imagine a life without his work, any more than he could imagine a life without his family. He was a fighter, the toughest man many of us knew. That strength and power over seemingly insurmountable odds, grew out of love for his family.
Jon married Sheila Hammer May 26, 1979. Sheila and Jon were a perfect fit in spite of their amusing exchanges of view. He never forgot the dates; first date, engagement, and in particular the date he married the love of his life, Sheila. He never failed to anticipate the anniversary and express pride for the duration of their union. Shortly after their marriage they started their family. They had three wonderful children, Jonna, Ben and Max. Jon was a loyal, loving and truly committed husband and father. His love for his wife, children and grandchildren was always present and something for which he was indeed grateful. One of Jon’s greatest joys was making his wife, children and grandchildren happy. Whether it was camping by the Missouri river, going to amusements parks, or taking the ultimate family vacation to Walt Disney World, nothing brought a bigger smile to his face than seeing his family having fun. His pride for his children was ever apparent and considered by him as his greatest contributions. He found pleasure planning time with them -dinners, vacations, watching parades from his front yard. Their success was his success; their happiness was his happiness.
He was a worrier who never stopped considering how to be a better man, husband, father and grandfather. Unassuming and humble, funny, cranky, forthright, opinionated…honest and caring, his life is reflected in the family he cherished and the community he loved. His legacy a lesson in generosity and steadfastness.
Jon was preceded in death by his grandparents Harry and Lucy (Till) Kinning and Gabriel and Frances (Weist) Ganje, parents Ben and Marj (Kinning) Ganje, brother David Ganje, uncle and aunt Robert “Buzz” and Esther Kinning, aunt Harriet Kinning and mother-in-law Verla (Hobbs) Hammer. Jon is survived by his wife Shelia (Hammer) Ganje, his children Jonna Ganje and John Shea family, Ben and Dew (Bad Warrior) Ganje family and Max Ganje, sisters Lucy Ganje and Sharon Carson, Francie Ganje, sisters-in-law Colette (Opp) Ganje, Julie (Hammer) Ganje and Laurie (Hammer) Pawelski, brother-in-law Kenny Hammer, father-in-law Kenneth Hammer, and many beloved cousins, nieces and nephews.