Ernest B. "Bennie" McCaslin
Apr 23rd 1918 - Jan 26th 2012
A good natured and kindhearted man, Ernest McCaslin was an extraordinary man to know and love. It came naturally to him to think of others ahead of himself. He was always looking for ways he could be of help whether great or small. Bennie, as he was often known, helped his wife Polly parent his children with patience, gentleness, and unconditional love. He could always make people laugh with his sharp sense of humor. Perhaps what Bennie was best known for, however, was his unwavering faith that guided his steps through his life’s journey. A true blessing in every way, he will be deeply missed while his legacy lives on in those who follow him.
Nearly a century has passed since the headlines of the day were dominated by the events overseas as WWI raged on. Although America had hopes of remaining neutral, repeated acts of hostility left us no choice but to engage in the fight for the freedoms we still enjoy today. Despite the unrest of the day a young couple from Bath, Michigan, was filled with joy as they welcomed a healthy baby boy into their hearts and home on April 23rd. Baby Ernest Benson was the oldest of five children born to his parents, William “Will” and Mary Alice (Burch) McCaslin. Two younger brothers and two younger sisters followed. With the family home located just a couple of blocks from the North Street Church of the Nazarene, Bennie was always involved with church activities. He attended Lansing Eastern High School. While in junior high school, his interest in printing began after taking several printing courses. He continued with printing curriculum throughout high school and was enrolled in the printing technology program. He worked "on the job training" during the last half of his senior year of high school and graduated in 1937.
With a solid foundation in the printing trade, he set out on the career that provided him with a good living. While establishing his career, Bennie met the young girl with whom he would establish the family he adored. Ruth Pauline Kennedy (Polly) attended Lansing First Church and Bennie North Street Church of the Nazarene.They met through the combined activities of their church youth groups. Drawn to each other from the start, they fell in love and became husband and wife on May 5, 1940, at Lansing First Church of the Nazarene. The Reverend Lloyd Byron officiated while their attendants were Bennie’s brother, H. Glen, and Polly’s best friend, Helen Adcock.
When WWII arrived on our doorstep on December 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war the very next day, which again sent countless young servicemen and women overseas. Bennie was drafted into the United States Army in April of 1945 and served in occupied Japan after the bombing of Tokoyo. He was discharged in August of 1946.
Once again a civilian Bennie was eager to return to his family, which grew to include three children: Michael, Rebecca, and Kenneth. He was a good father who parented with endless amounts of tolerance and gentleness. Bennie usually allowed Polly to take care of most of the parental duties, although he was greatly involved in his children’s activities. He was the chauffeur to various school and church events. Church attendance and participation in church activities was something that was always stressed in the McCaslin family. Bennie was also involved in their church, Lansing First Church, as he served on the church board for a time.
As a skilled craftsman Bennie worked as a compositor, setting newspaper type by hand in the composing room at The Lansing State Journal. Although it was a clean job, he did always smell a bit of newsprint and ink when he came home from work. Bennie usually worked the afternoon shift and always walked the mile or so downtown to get to work, although he was known to his coworkers as “Michigan Ernie Studebaker” in reference to Tennessee Ernie Ford, a recording artist during the fifties.
After retiring in 1979, Bennie had more time for enjoying his interests. He was always adding to his extensive stamp and coin collections. A true handyman who could fix anything around the house. Bennie loved tinkering in his basement workshop and was always ready to help others with anything that would make their lives easier. During their retirement years he and Polly were "snowbirds" who divided their time between Indian Lake and Zephyrhills, Florida. Bennie kept busy with projects at home and he liked having fun in various activities at their mobile home park in Florida. He loved to sail his little Sunfish on Indian Lake, and seized every opportunity to go fishing with Polly or anyone else willing. Family time was a priority throughout his life and he enjoyed camping and getting together with his brother Glen and his family. Bennie was deeply saddened with Polly’s death on December 7, 2001.
Bennie and Polly enjoyed socializing and were good friends with Jody Stover and her husband, Ed. After Polly and Ed passed away, Bennie and Jody formed a loving relationship and were married in 2004.
There were so many things to love and appreciate about Bennie McCaslin. He was well respected wherever he was and carried himself with great integrity and humility. Bennie was not one to be flashy and was usually dressed in grey, brown, or blue. He had a great sense of humor and loved telling stories. He usually followed stories with a joke or happy ending. Bennie was famous for ending one of his stories with “We had a time,” and another favorite saying was, “People are funnier than anybody.” Most of all he will be remembered for his good natured spirit and willingness to help others.
Ernest “Bennie”McCaslin of Vicksburg died on Thursday, January 26, 2012. Bennie’s family includes his wife, Josephine; three children: Michael McCaslin, of Chicago; Rebecca Novotny, of Cadillac; Kenneth McCaslin, of Vicksburg; three grandchildren: Brian Novotny, of Cadillac; Kevin Novotny, of NC; and Teagan Allison McCaslin, of Kalamazoo; one brother; one sister; and numerous nieces and nephews. Bennie was preceded in death by his first wife, Polly in 2001. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 9, 2012, at 11 a.m. at the Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com, where you can sign his memory book online. Those who wish may make a memorial donation to the Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene.
The Family is being assisted by the Life Story Funeral Home, 409 S. Main St., Vicksburg (649-1697).