Rev. E. Benjamin (Ben) Fant


Elmer Benjamin Fant was born in Natchez, Mississippi on April 19, 1933.  He was the third of four children born to Percy Barney Fant and Annie Lou Liddell Fant.  Ben passed away on December 17, 2022 at the age of 89, after a 14-year struggle with Parkinson’s Disease and eventually COPD.  He was buried with his family in the old Natchez City Cemetery on his April 19th birthday. 

Ben was raised in West Monroe, Louisiana.  He attended Crosley and Ouachita High School.  He received his B.A. Degree form Northeast Louisiana College (ULM) in accounting and business administrations.  But the strong influence of the Wes Monroe United Methodist Church changed the direction of his life. 
By Ben’s junior year in college, he was attending every activity at the church.  The youth directors at his church.  The youth directors at his church and his minister, Bro. Milton, had a powerful effect on his heart.  The work of the church inspired him. 
By the time he received his B.A. Degree, business and accounting were not nearly as meaningful as church work.  After some serious talks with his pastor, Ben enrolled at Emory University, Candler School of Theology.  He headed to Atlanta with $200 in his pocket, driving a really old car. 
While at Emory, God truly blessed Ben when he teamed up with James Evans.  Together they served several small rural churches in Northern Georgia.  Ben recalled trying to preach while the group huddled around a potbellied stove to keep warm.  At that time, James already had a wife and three children.  Ben enjoyed playing with six-year-old Wayne Evans, who grew up to become a Methodist Minister.  Emory marked the beginning of a very long and cherished friendship with the Evans family. 
During his last year in seminary, Ben was recruited by the United Methodist Conference in Florida.  Florida was experiencing rapid growth and needed young ministers.  Ben was assigned to a brand-new church which consisted of a plot of land and a congregation of people from a variety of denominations, wanting to become Methodists.  Ben did get a United Methodist Church built and a United Methodist congregation worshipping inside.  While in Florida Ben served churches in Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Jacksonville and West Palm Beach. 
In 1982, Ben returned to West Monroe to help his family.  Both his mother and father were gravely ill.  He continued his ministry in Louisiana, often serving two-point charges.  He pastored Marion, Claiborne, Crew Lake, Reveille, Morningside, Logansport, Walker’s Chapel, Plain Dealing, Wilhite and Bird’s Chapel. 
Ben and Martha retired in 1998, moving to Shreveport.  Ben had been able to enjoy many interests during his 24 years of retirement.  He had learned to play better golf during the last year of his active ministry.  He even made a “hole-in-one” just before retirement.  He especially enjoyed playing in clergy tournaments.  He and Martha also traveled to see a number of professional golfers complete. 
Ben had a lifelong love of baseball.  He had played on various church teams and also coached during his younger years.  The Boston Red Sox were considered the family’s favorite team through several generations. He passed that team spirit on to his children and grandchildren. 

Ben was an avid reader and felt that books were a necessity.  He would always purchase a number of books about his current interest.  Not only did the bookshelves contain many volumes about preaching and religion, but there were a variety of books about sports, politics, science and humor.  There were always more books than shelves.  During each annual conference, friends knew that they could find Ben in the book room. 

Ben’s last big interest was in electric cars.  He felt that they would help solve some f the pollution problems of the world.  He had planned to buy on in two years.  He would have really enjoyed that!
He was preceded in death by his parents; and his brothers, Percy Barney Fant, Jr. and Liddell Fant. He is survived by his devoted wife, Martha Thompson Fant; his sons, John Benjamin Fant, and Stephen Holton Fant; step-son, Paul Thompson Grube; step-daughter, Elizabeth Hammons; and his sister, Juanita Fant Clements.  He was also very proud of his four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. 
Ben felt truly blessed by the members of each congregation he served throughout his ministry.  His fellow clergy friends touched his spirit in very special ways.  His faith grew stringer year by year. 
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus or Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

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