Benjamin William Wharton “Benny,” the son of William and Jan Wharton of Grand Lake, died on May 19, 2014, at his home at Columbine Lake where he had lived his entire life. He was 26 years old. He died from a choking accident, common for people with his two genetic syndromes: Opitz FG syndrome and Koolen De Vries Syndromes.
Ben was born on Feb. 20, 1988, at Kremmling, Colo., one of the last babies delivered there by Dr. Terry Grossman. He had a life of medical challenges, but more than that he had a great life filled with love. He attended Grand Lake Elementary, East Grand Middle School and Middle Park High School. He had friends who sang with him, who had inside jokes with him and people who really connected with him. He especially loved singing in the choir, performing his lines in programs, and saying “Cheese” for all the group photos.
Grand County was a loving community for Ben as child with special needs. Horizons provided support right from the start and continued his entire life. His life was enhanced through: Horseback Riding through SMaRT and NSCD, Adam’s Camp at the YMCA, Grand Lake Rotary (who provided his first Q chord), Grand Lake Independent Sports Club, FV Rotary, Lion’s Club, Middle Park Electric, Grand County Social Services, Rhythm Within, and many other groups.
Ben was that sweet guy who always carried around Kermit the frog, or Elmo and had an iPod around his neck. He usually wore a Beatles T-shirt. Many heard him singing “It’s a Small World” or “Spoonful of Sugar,” or saw him perform “Oh Shenandoah” or “God Bless the USA.” He often asked others about their favorite Beatles song. He often sang, “We all live in a Yellow Submarine” at Mountain Foods in Grand Lake.
Ben loved working at his job at Miyauchi’s and eating ice cream. He loved riding horses, telling his stories over and over again, and making people laugh with his jokes, playing his Qchord, watching home video tapes, and hanging out with friends. He especially loved singing at the Cabin Fever Follies, and when the applause came, everyone enjoyed the jubilee on his face and the way he flapped his whole body.
“He lived his life with a purity that is rarely seen. He never once said anything to hurt anyone’s feelings. He forgave freely. He enriched the lives of everyone who gave him a chance,” said his family.
A family service will be held at noon on Saturday, May 31, at Roachdale Cemetery, Roachdale, Ind. At 1 p.m., there will be a Celebration of Ben’s Life at Roachdale Christian Church — Family Life Center.
There will be two Colorado Celebrations of Ben’s life this summer. June in Grand Lake, and July in the Denver area — both to be announced.
The family is asking in place of flowers that donations of any amount be made to Ben’s beloved Adam’s Camp — Ben Wharton Scholarship Fund. 6767 South Spruce St., Suite, 102 Centennial, CO 80112 303-563-8290 or follow the Donate Buttons to give in the “Memory of a Person” adamscamp.org. You will use the email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, to the wonderful support group the family is actively involved in: Supporting Families with Koolen de Vries Syndrome P.O. Box 946, Brownsburg, IN 46112 or online at www.supportingkdvs.com/donations