He fought the good fight, he finished the race, he kept the faith. Benny Reid Wilhelm, 74, of Statesville NC went to his Heavenly Home, on Saturday April 15th 2023.
Benny was born in Iredell County on March 30th 1949, to the late Ben and Juanita Wilhelm. He attended Cool Spring School.
On October 22nd 1967, Benny married the love of his life, Linda Meredith Harmon. They shared 55 ½ amazing years together. They were soulmates who built a beautiful life on faith, love, respect, laughter, and dancing. They had two daughters, Amy and Emily, whom they loved completely and unconditionally.
On August 4th 1969 Benny was Drafted into the United States Army. He graduated from Basic Training at Fort Bragg NC and from AIT Advance Training at Fort Dix, NJ, with an MOS as Combat Engineer. He left for Vietnam on January 12th 1970, and Served with the 20th Engineer Brigade, 104th Engineers Company Dump Truck Division until March 9, 1971. While serving in Vietnam Benny made many lifelong friendships. Unfortunately, like so many of his Army Brothers he was exposed to Agent Orange. This caused him to develop multiple Cancers, creating years of pain and cutting his life too short.
Upon returning from Vietnam Benny went to work in the Maintenance Department at Fiber Industries in Salisbury NC. Benny made several incredible friendships there before his retirement 35 ½ years later.
Benny loved the outdoors, and fishing with his grandchildren brought him so much joy. He was an avid hunter - a passion he shared with his son-in-law Bubby. Benny helped form the West Rowan Bowhunters in Cleveland, which helped raise money for Cancer patients in their community - never realizing that years later Benny himself would be so tragically affected by Cancer.
After retiring from Fiber he started Benny's Lawn Care and ran it for 5 years. His customers loved him and Benny brought such happiness to all of them.
In 2006 while at his father’s funeral Benny realized the need for Honor Guard members to provide Military Honors for Fallen Veterans, so he joined American Legion Post 65 in Statesville. He served on 65’s Honor Guard and at the Post in almost every other capacity for 17 years. Nothing he did though meant more to him than making sure every Veteran received all the benefits that they deserve. It was truly his passion, so it is very fitting that his final position was as Post Service Officer. Benny also joined VFW 2031 in Statesville and was a longtime loyal member. He was a member of the Iredell County Veterans Honor Guard also. Once again Benny made so many amazing friends at these organizations.
On October 21, 2018 Benny and Linda joined New Salem United Methodist Church in Statesville. Benny served on the Security Team and spent years lovingly taking care of the church buildings and grounds, and supported the church in any way he could. The friendships he made there were so important to him.
Benny was preceded in death by his: father and mother, Ben & Juanita Wilhelm; brother, Joe “Buddy” Wilhelm; niece, Jennifer Wilhelm; nephew, Tommy Beach; in-laws, Fred & Myrtle Harmon, Steve & Kaye Harmon, Gary Harmon, and Ernie Beach. Along the years Benny also lost so many friends who were like family to him. It comforts his family to know that Benny is with Jesus now, and that he was reunited with all those he loved that went before him.
Left to cherish his memory is his: wife, Linda H. Wilhelm; daughters, Amy Wilhelm (Mark Beaver) and Emily (Doug) Lambert; grandchildren– Ashley Lambert, Jeremy Lambert, Alex Cook, and Tyler Lambert; great grandchildren– Aleeah and Colesin; and sister, Lisa (Daniel) Galliher; and many other beloved family members.
Visitation will be held on Saturday April 22nd from 5 to 8 pm, at New Salem UMC at 155 New Salem Rd in Statesville.
Funeral Services will be held on Sunday April 23rd beginning at 2pm, also at New Salem UMC. Pastor Todd McCullough will officiate. Music will be offered by Allen Haneline. Pall bearers will be: Mark Armstrong, Eddie Bowman, Don Carr, Sammy Deal, Jeff Edwards, Andy Elsenboss, Benjamin Galliher, John Groh, Jerry Harris, James Lambert, Mack Little, and Jack Williams. Honorary Pall Bears will be ALL Vietnam Veterans.
Burial will follow in the New Salem UMC Cemetery. American Legion Post 65’s Honor Guard will be providing Military Honors. The Patriot Guard of NC will also pay tribute with a Flag Line. Troutman Funeral Home is serving the Wilhelms.
In lieu of flowers, Benny requested that donations be made to American Legion Post 65, 2446 Salisbury Hwy, Statesville NC 28677, so that his legacy can carry on.
The family would like to extend their appreciation to all the friends and family who texted, called, visited, and attended Benny’s fundraiser. Thank You to the Post 65 family for that amazing day and for all the days you shared with Benny. Thank You to Pastor Todd McCullough & New Salem UMC for your guidance, love and constant support. Thank You to Benny’s compassionate physicians: Dr. Steve Choi (Duke University), Dr. Vivik Trivedi (Iredell Memorial), Dr. Frank Pancotta (Salisbury VA), Dr. “Z” (Salisbury VA), and his VA nurse, Yvonne Miller. Thank You to the Hospice staff, especially Benny’s nurse Bobbie and his CNA Melissa – you brought such peace and smiles to our days.
Benny was loved by so many, and we know that none of us will ever forget his big ol’ grin, his tasty tomatoes, his long joyful conversations, his infectious laughter, his boundless energy, and his unending willingness to help others. “Well done good and faithful servant”.
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American Legion Post 65
2446 Salisbury Hwy, Statesville NC 28677