GAYS MILLS - Ben Logan, the author of the memoir "The Land Remembers," died very peacefully on Sept. 19, 2014, in Viroqua. He also wrote "Christmas Remembered," "The Empty Meadow," and other works.
Ben was born in Seneca in 1920. He grew up on a ridge top farm his mother called "Seldom Seen." He spent most of his life away from Wisconsin, but carried Seldom Seen and the people who were part of it with him wherever he was. In his writing, Ben brought the stories and feel of a place he loved to many thousands of readers. It was his hope that readers could carry this feeling beyond one small corner of Wisconsin, to build a broader appreciation and care for the land and its people.
During the Second World War, Ben served in the Navy on landing craft in the Mediterranean. From his writings about the war - he hardly ever talked about it - it was clear that his deep relationship with the land and community were what got him through the grotesque horror of war, what kept him whole, what brought him home. Along with his writings about Wisconsin, Ben's career included editing "Ford Farming Magazine," writing and production for radio, film and television and the development of programs to address the impact of television on children. He gave lectures and workshops, working with literary peers such as Robert Bly and Jerzy Kosinski.
Ben met his wife, Jacqueline, in Mexico City. Jacqueline was a much beloved Spanish teacher at John Jay High school in Cross River, N.Y. She died in 1990 at Seldom Seen. Although he raised his family far from Wisconsin, he helped his children, Suzanne, Roger and Kristine, to see and love the landscapes of their own childhoods.
In 1986, Ben and Jacqueline came back to Seldom Seen to retire, where they found a growing community of young people who came to southwestern Wisconsin, moved by the beauty of the land Ben had known growing up. This community embraced Ben and Jacqueline, surrounding them with children to fuss about, music and laughter, conversation - and putting up with Ben's corny puns.
Ben's writing about the land had a touch of romance - but it was never sentimental. He had the hard, honest insight of someone who grew up knowing how a falling tree limb could kill a person, how the wind bit on a long winter day of working outside. There is a small valley - Ben called it Lost Valley - running southeast from the farm house at Seldom Seen. Ben often told the story of a time when he was wandering there as a boy, hearing the distant cry of a wolf, finally seeing it loping across the valley, paying him no attention - raw, solitary, majestic nature. And so the boy, who saw the last wolf through the blowing snow down in Lost Valley, is going home for the last time.
Ben Logan is survived by family, daughter, Suzanne Logan West and husband Jerry Northington; grandson, Seth Logan; son, Roger Logan and wife Susie Stulz; daughter, Kristine Logan and husband Mark Sagar; and by dear friends, Paul and Kathy Fairchild. But most of all, Ben Logan is survived by the land. Remember him standing on the ridge, like his father before him, watching morning fog rise out of Lost Valley. If you care to, go and stand there - or anywhere - and feel this precious, fragile land Ben Logan helped us to know.
As he put it, "Once you have lived on the land, been a partner with its moods, secrets, and seasons, you cannot leave. The living land remembers, touching you in unguarded moments, saying, 'I am here. You are part of me.'"
Memorial services will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014, at the GAYS MILLS COMMUNITY CENTER at Gays Mills. Friends may call after 2 p.m. on that day.
The family suggest memorials be made to Valley Stewardship Network at www.kickapoovsn.org. Friends may view this obituary on www.thorsonfuneralhome.com. Online condolences may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Thorson Funeral Home of Viroqua is serving the family.