YOUNGSTOWN - Aloysius William "Ben" Oberman, 95, departed this life Thursday morning, Dec. 24, 2020, having left an indelible mark on everyone whose lives he touched.
Born Aug. 14, 1925, in Youngstown to Polish immigrants, the late John Oberman and Malvina Bojda Oberman, he was the fifth of eight children and grew up on Youngstown's South Side. Although the family of 10 was short on material wealth, they were rich in love, laughter, and music, all of which became cornerstones of Ben’s life.
He attended Saint Stanislaus grade school and Wilson High School. As World War II raged, he volunteered to join the U.S. Navy at the age of 17. As a Seaman Second Class and later an Electrician’s Mate, Ben toured the South Pacific, narrowly escaping harm during the explosion of a nearby ship. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and returned to Youngstown where shortly thereafter he met the love of his life, Constance Elizabeth Scrofani at Gray's Drug store in downtown Youngstown, on Federal Street.
Ben and Connie married Sept. 2, 1950, and settled on Youngstown’s West Side, where their love story grew a family with son, John, and daughter, Kathleen. They later welcomed John’s wife, Sally, and her son, Jeff, to the family. The family home on Highlawn Avenue was a gathering place for decades. Many a beer was shared in Ben’s basement bar where he hosted many festivities, celebrating holidays and birthdays, and having Easter Egg hunts. Party-goers stood in line to get their betting pool tickets during football games, especially at the Super Bowl parties. More often than not, a party kicked off just because someone happened to stop by. People frequently brought their own friends over, most of whom would become lifelong pals. As one of his bar signs stated, “You are a stranger here but once.”
A talented bricklayer by trade, Ben worked for U.S. Steel and later for Modern Builders Supply, making many good friends at work. Music, though, was his true passion. Along with cherished brothers, Ted on accordion and Walt on washboard, Ben mastered the harmonica and washtub bass in the Oberman Band that played sing-along songs and polka favorites at family and other gatherings.
Ben had a knack for garnering attention, consistently managing to find the spotlight. It was always Ben who would catch a photographer’s lens or be singled out for a reporter's interview wherever he happened to be. Chosen from the audience to sing on stage with Don Ho during a trip to Hawaii, he stole the show.
Ben was a master storyteller, jokester, and occasional pot-stirrer, yet deeply sentimental with a heart of gold.
Ben played many characters over the years - Easter Bunny, Baby New Year, and a St. Patrick's Day Leprechaun, among others. Most beloved, however, was his role as Santa Claus for over 70 years for which he always meticulously prepared. That he left his family on Christmas Eve is surely no coincidence.
A devoted Catholic and long-time parishioner of St. Brendan Church in Youngstown, he faithfully watched the Sunday Mass broadcast from Notre Dame when he was no longer able to attend Mass in person.
Ben was adored as a son, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend to many, but his most cherished role was that of husband and father. He leaves his son and daughter-in-law John and Sally Oberman; his daughter, Kathleen Oberman; and many nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends to savor and cherish his legacy.
Besides his parents, Ben was preceded in death by his “forever bride,” Connie Oberman; brothers, Ted and Walter Oberman; sisters, Bernice Chittock, Josephine Godocsik, Cecilia Oberman, Jennie Snyder, and Lillian Syms; and grandson, Jeff Eckenrode.
Despite the loss of loved ones over the years Ben always said that life is for the living. But oh, what a party is surely taking place in heaven to welcome him home!
Roll out the barrel, we'll have a barrel of fun
Roll out the barrel, we've got the blues on the run
Zing boom tararrel, ring out a song of good cheer
Now's the time to roll the barrel, for the gang's all here!
Shave and a haircut - two bits!
Ben's family extends their deepest gratitude to the management and staff of the Inn at Christine Valley and Briarfield Manor, where he lived in his final years under their excellent and loving care. Also, special thanks to Crossroads Hospice for the special end-of-life care provided.
Family and friends may call from 9 to 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 31, at Kinnick Funeral Home, 477 N. Meridian Rd., Youngstown, where funeral services will begin at 10:30 a.m. Services will continue at St. Brendan Church, 2800 Oakwood Ave., Youngstown, with a Mass of Christian Burial to be celebrated at 11 a.m., with Rev. Simon Mino officiating. If paying respects to the family or attending the Mass, please follow all current social distancing guidelines and health protocols. To those who cannot attend the visitation or services, or are uncomfortable doing so at this time, please keep Ben and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
Interment will follow the Mass and will be at Calvary Cemetery in Youngstown, where Ben will be laid to rest next to his beloved wife.
In lieu of flowers, Ben’s family requests that memorial tributes in his memory be made by mail to Second Harvest Food Bank, 2805 Salt Springs Rd, Youngstown, OH 44509; or online through https://mahoningvalleysecondharvest.org
Due to the current pandemic, an additional celebration of Ben's life will be planned for a later date in 2021.
Idz z Bogiem (Go with God)
Second Harvest Food Bank
2805 Salt Springs Rd., Youngstown OH 44509