The City of Tombstone and the Tombstone Community Food Bank honored one of their own today, for turning the food bank into one of the countys largest distribution sites.

Ben Thompson, 80, enlisted in the Army at 18 years old. After 12 years of service to his country he retired and began serving in a different way.

“Id say, remember some of the good things I did, and forget about the bad things,” he said with a laugh.

Thompson worked as the owner of an appliance repair shop, he then worked in a jail helping inmates. But for his wife of 35 years, Betty Thompson, he’s helped her and her family the most.

“He gave us a home,” she said. He picked us up, and he’s made us what we are today.

The couple relocated to Tombstone in late 2000s, for a slower pace than what they had in Phoenix. When Ben finally retired a decade ago, he started looking for something to do. Both Betty and a friend of Ben suggested volunteering at the Tombstone Community Food Bank. Ben started by stocking shelves but was quickly promoted to managerwith the task of finding donors and collecting monetary donations.

This truck right here was what started the food bank out, which was mine, because the food bank had no way of getting anything,” the veteran said.

He worked with city leadership to get a refrigerator truck and other businesses to keep food flowing to the growing food bank. Ben said when he took over as manager the food bank served 200 people a month, and when he left a year ago it was serving 2,500 people across Cochise County each month.

Hes a humanitarian, Ben’s stepdaughter Kandi Oliver said.

But the biggest impact her stepdad had on her was raising her special needs son. Ben told KGUN 9 that his grandson, Omar, needed to be seen by specialists when he was younger, and it was community members that helped connect him with the right doctors so Omar could learn to walk. So for Ben, his work at the food bank was a way to give back to the community that helped his family.

“Thats what I was doing. I was giving back, Ben said. I didnt think of (the) impact (I’d have). I just did it.

Ben retired for a final time, a year ago because of lung cancera diagnosis that has returned after a short stint of remission. Ben says if it wasn’t his bad lungs and not being able to walk well, he’d still be at the food bank.

“To just drop it kind of upset me because that was my baby. I built this and got it where it’s got it where it’s at today.” Ben said. My hands (and) my mind… still want to…find something to do.

He says he hopes hes remembered for the good hes done and is grateful for people helping himwhen he cant.

All of the people Ive been involved with that have helped me, I thank them, Ben said.