Ben Ralph Burkholder of Houston joined his Father in heaven at the age of 89 on October 4, 2018 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Ben was born September 7, 1929 in Odessa Texas to Ralph and Janice Burkholder. He grew up in Barstow, Texas, in an agriculture family.
He graduated from New Mexico Military Institute in 1948 and transferred to Texas Tech College where he met the love of his life, Tommye Carter. He was active in the Rodeo Association, but graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and as a Lieutenant commissioned in the United States Army.
Ben and Tommye were married in July 1950 just prior to him going on active duty as an Armor officer. He was deployed to Korea in the winter of 1951 as an Armor platoon leader of five Sherman tanks. After less than two months in Korea, an artillery shell exploded on the back of his moving tank causing severe shrapnel wounds.
He spent several months in rehabilitation in Japan. Some of the shrapnel remained in his body throughout his life. After receiving the Purple Heart for being wounded in action, he was discharged from the Army and returned home to West Texas where he farmed cotton and drilled water wells for several years.
Ben spent the majority of his career as an International Agriculture consultant and participated in projects in the Middle East, Africa, Mexico, South America, Hawaii, Europe, Australia, and Asia. These projects involved food and cattle production as well as landscape architecture that focused on drip irrigation. These projects were sometimes sponsored by governments, international aid organizations, and private international figures including David Rockefeller and Robert O. Anderson. One year he flew on the Concord more than anyone else other than the crew!
Upon retiring from International travel, he and Tommye started The Toffee Company which has slowly grown to the production level of greater than 15,000 pounds of the “world’s greatest toffee” being sold every year. He traveled throughout the Southwest United States selling toffee until the time of his death.
Ben was a very devout Christian. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Houston for over 40 years! Ben was a man of great character and had a reputation of uncompromising honesty. His pleasant demeanor endeared him to his many friends worldwide. He was an accomplished private pilot with over 12,000 flying hours. Ben was also fluent in Spanish. He was an avid sportsman and excellent marksman.
Ben lost Tommye in October 1994. He was also preceded in death by his parents and brother, Terry Burkholder. He is survived by his brother Mike Burkholder and wife Dixie of Granbury. He was very proud of and is survived by his three sons; Duncan Burkholder MD and wife Melanie of Lubbock, Carter Burkholder of Lubbock, and Rees Burkholder of Houston. He also leaves behind eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren that he adored.
Services will be held Monday, October 8, 2018, 12:30 pm at Memorial Oaks Funeral Home, 13001 Katy Fwy, Houston, Tx. We look forward to seeing him in the glory of Heaven.
His cherished memory, great legacy, and the Toffee Company will live on!