Cover photo for Ben Charba's Obituary
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1940 Ben 2022

Ben Charba

November 22, 1940 — June 24, 2022

Bernard Vencil Charba, also known as “Ben” or “Poppo” was born on November 22, 1940 to Jim and Mary Charba at home in Cistern, Texas.  He passed away on June 24, 2022 at the age of 81.  Ben grew up on a farm in the community of Cistern in Flatonia, Texas with his three sisters and two brothers and graduated from Flatonia High School in 1959.  After graduation, he moved to Nacogdoches to attend Stephen F. Austin State University and studied forestry science.  After his time at SFA, he joined the United States Army where he honorably served from 1961 to 1965, primarily serving on the wall in Germany during the Cold War before returning home.  After his service with the Army, he was a member of the US Army Reserves until 1967 and also attended the University of Houston studying chemistry and engineering.  Ben started his career at Shell Oil Company in Houston where he worked as a chemist for over 30 years.  He traveled all over North America working in various Shell facilities.  In Houston, he met the love of his life, Willa Deane Means, whom he married and soon were blessed with their loving daughter Amy.  The Houston-Alief area would remain their home where they raised Amy until after her graduation in 1985.

Ben was raised in a small one room house with his mother and father, brothers David and Jesse, and his three sisters, Georgia, the late Charlene, and Erna.  All were raised on hard work and independence as Ben could tear down a tractor motor and rebuild it, build a house, do electrical and plumbing work, and manage a herd of cattle.  Out of necessity, Ben and his siblings learned how to hunt for, and raise or grow food necessary to live.  From a young age, he believed in being independent, driven by an amazing work ethic that only ended two months ago when he became ill.  He loved chemistry and math and to this day the chemistry bible was the one book that never left his side.  He would quiz his grandchildren on the Periodic Table of Elements.  Ben loved saltwater fishing, shrimping, and crabbing and spent leisure days at their cabin on Bolivar Peninsula- where he was joined by Willa and Amy pulling in the shrimp and crab nets. He was also quite the gun enthusiast!

Ben retired from Shell Oil in 1997, and he and Willa moved to Rockport, TX for a year.  Although they enjoyed the salt air, home beckoned his return, and they moved to Cistern and established their retirement home where they enjoyed building their home and Willa’s gardens. They also became active members of Sts. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church.  Ben became “Poppo” when Anna Mary Featherston was born in 1999.  His prized granddaughter, Anna, quickly had Poppo’s love and attention.  For a strong tough guy, Anna brought out the softer side of Poppo, providing years of enjoyment as he watched her grow into an amazing woman.  Then came grandson Ben (named after Poppo) in 2002.  Being his namesake, Ben shared the love of chemistry, math and the drive of a work ethic with Poppo.  Many days spent cutting trees on the fence line, building fence, painting the porch, cutting firewood or watching sports, they enjoyed it together.  Young Ben would visit Poppo from the University of Texas and Anna from Texas A&M, a short drive away where they would catch up on current events as Poppo usually had Fox News on the TV!  He was very proud of them and we now know that those times were so valuable to all.

The last couple of years were hard on Poppo with the loss of Willa in May of 2020, and the passing of his grandson Ben from an immune system disorder in November of 2021.  As a blessing, Amy was able to visit frequently and help Ben in his last couple of years.  Although challenged by devastating loss, Poppo remained a source of strength for the family.  He was fiercely independent, a proud veteran, a loving father, grandfather, husband and brother.  We will miss his unique humor, his pretending to not hear what you say, and his wise advice to all who would listen.

Ben is survived by his daughter Amy, son-in-law Brit, and granddaughter Anna Featherston.  Brothers:  David Charba and wife Barbara (Cistern, TX) and their children Felicia Sharp (husband Owen and children, Joshua and Ashlyn) of League City, TX, Beth Levitz (husband Chris and daughter Avery) of Fulshear, TX and Jenny McLane (husband Steve and son Stevie) of Keller, TX; Jesse Charba and wife Akua (Silver Springs, MD) and his children Chrissi Charba (Reston, VA) and Melissa Viswanath and husband Anu and children Priya and Chaya (Centreville, VA); and nieces Dena and husband Brian Wood (children Jake and Rachel) of Austin, TX, and Debbie and husband Ray Pena of Pearland, TX (children Ryan and RJ, RJ’s husband, Gavin, and grandson Leo).  Sisters:  Georgia Thompson and her children Patricia Sands (husband Butch and son Peter) of Marion, MA and Jimmy Thompson (wife Sharon) of Pittsburgh, PA; Erna Johnson and husband Rich (Cistern, TX).  Ben is preceded in death by his wife Willa Means Charba, his grandson Ben Thomas Featherston, his sister Charlene Charba Dawson Curlee, his parents Jim and Mary Charba, and the many friends and family who have passed that entered Ben’s full life of 81 years.

Funeral Mass for Ben will begin at 10:00am on Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Cistern, Texas.  Military Honors and burial will follow at Cistern Catholic Cemetery.

Memorial Contributions

Texas Children’s Hospital Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program in honor of Ben’s grandson, Ben Thomas Featherston

PO Box 300630

Houston, TX 77230-0630

Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Cistern, TX

113 Manchester St

Cistern, TX 78941

(361) 865-3568

Ben Thomas Featherston Memorial Scholarship Fund, this fund provides college/trade school scholarships for students in honor of Ben’s grandson Ben Featherston, who recently passed away.  Contributions may be sent to:

Brit Featherston, For the benefit of Ben Featherston

5497 Charba Ln

Flatonia, TX 78941

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ben Charba, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Mass

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

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