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Ben Labonosky IV- 57, CT

On July 16, 2017 Ben Labonosky IV was fatally injured by a distracted driver. It was the kind of perfect Summer weather that Ben would dream of all year and he was taking a leisurely Sunday ride on his motorcycle. He had slowed to make a left-hand turn when he was rear-ended by a distracted driver who never applied his brakes. Ben was brought to a local hospital where family and friends held on to hope for a miraculous recovery. He was pronounced brain-dead on July 18, 2017.

Ben is well-known and widely respected in the small-town community of Colchester CT where he lived since early childhood. When his family first moved they bought a restaurant which became a hub of social life in the area. Given the success of the former business, Ben’s parents (pre-deceased), brother, and sister have remained well-known and loved in the community. However, Ben seemed to have an infamy all his own as a result of his genuine personality, unique charisma, and generous nature.

Ben and his wife, Ruthann

In 1984, Ben met and married the love of his life, Ruthann (predeceased, July 18, 2008) who was then a waitress at the family’s restaurant. They had two daughters- Jamie and Jessica. Ben had an incredible work ethic driven by his commitment to supporting his family. He worked as a cement mason both in a local union and later for his own small business. He will be remembered for his passion for life, laid-back personality, and one of a kind style. He loved hot summer days, the beach, his pint-sized companion Fozzie (a Yorkshire Terrier) and probably had more fun than his children when he took his family on trips to amusement parks. Ben’s passion was motorcycles, he would research, read about, dream of, and work on his own but most of all he loved riding. He had a tremendous sense of humor, and those who knew Ben and Ruthann often recall their seemingly innate ability to always make each other laugh through all of life’s ups and downs.

Ben with his daughters at Jessica’s wedding, just a few months before he was killed

Ben was a large physical presence, standing over 6 feet tall, covered with tattoos, sporting long dirty-blonde hair, bright blue eyes and often arriving on his Harley in his trademark yellow sneakers. So for some at first glance, he may have seemed intimidating. However, anyone who met him quickly realized that he was a kind and gentle soul. In preparing for his final services, his daughters found a quote that they felt summarized his relationships with others quite succinctly: “Anyone can find the dirt in someone, be the one who finds the gold”. Ben was often able to point out people’s strengths, when others might point to faults. He would do all he could in his power to support those he loved the most. He remained generous in his final moments by giving the gift of life through organ donation.

A week before his death, Ben visited his daughters in the Boston-area and was talking about a well-deserved retirement in just a few short years. He was considering a move to Florida where he hoped to frequently visit the beach and ride his bike yearlong. His tragic and senseless death has left an aching hole in the hearts of so many who love him.

Ben’s family is hoping to honor his legacy and prevent future tragedies by organizing an annual event in his memory to support the mission of EndDD.org in its efforts to End Distracted Driving. This year’s event is on Saturday, July 21, 2018.