|Ben Plymale |
official Boeing portrait, early 1960s
|Ben with my grandmother and their first child, 1950|
|newspaper article about the car accident that brought |
Ben's secret family out into the open, January 1966
|newspaper article about the death|
of Mary Lou Paisley, May 1968
|part of a 1979 newspaper article about the national security breach|
that Ben was involved in
Amazingly, there were no formal charges ever filed and nobody was ever prosecuted for what was surely criminal activity. My grandfather though did lose his security clearance and was demoted from his job at Boeing (although they eventually gave him his old job back and reinstated his security clearance).
|Ben (right) meeting with newly-elected Congressman Norm Dicks (left)|
and another Boeing executive (center), 1977
Careless Health and Dramatic Death
Ben was something of a hedonist and did not take care of his own health. He was a notoriously heavy drinker and a chain smoker. During his DC days, he was often known for meeting colleagues for what he called a “gin lunch”, when he would drink 4 or 5 glasses of gin before going back to his office to work on some report. His habits caught up with him as he suffered from a heart attack and contracted lung cancer. Yet Ben was persistent and successful at most everything he did. He stopped drinking, started eating healthy and began jogging regularly. After having one of his lungs removed, he had also beaten lung cancer.
One of Ben’s greatest passions was fishing. In August 1981, Ben went on a fishing trip to rural British Columbia, Canada. In true form to his cavalier attitude towards life, he neglected to take his required oxygen supplies with him. His single lung began filling with fluid and he realized he was dying. After a dramatic helicopter ride, he died on the steps of the tiny hospital in Bella Bella, BC. He was 55 years old.
Much of the above comes from the 1995 book When the Pentagon Was For Sale by Andy Pasztor, in which Ben features prominently.