Professor Ben Bester

17 April 1944 - 27 June 2021 

This site is in memory of Ben Bester

Husband. Father. Grandfather. Brother(in law) Friend. 

Professor. Colleague. Educator. Mentor

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A tribute to a Gentleman

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Professor Ben Bester, who passed away peacefully on 27 June 2021 at his home in Hogsback, with his beloved wife Diana by his side. He was born on the 17th of April 1944 in Leeudoringstad and left this world after bravely battling cancer.

Ben  was an exceptional person. He was an agricultural economist with a sound grasp of practical matters and a wonderful cook. He was the epitome of what a gentleman should be, and also a generous and supportive friend. He was caring and kind to those around him and showed a genuine interest in everyone’s well being. We will miss his wry, ironic sense of humour, and his ability to cut through pretense and deception to reach the heart of any matter. 

He was a quiet presence in our Hogsback village and selflessly contributed to our community by running an information site for Hogsback, keeping it updated and relevant. He also created a site for the Eco Shrine and many other establishments in Hogsback. He was a keen photographer and shared his beautiful views of our world on his virtual sites.


Some of Ben's sites and media

hogsback info site


the Eco shrine Site


Video for Diana

His career


Ben studied Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University, after which he completed his post-graduate studies at the University of New South Wales in Australia. He then returned to Stellenbosch University, where he obtained his PHD and  remained as a senior lecturer for nine years.

He started teaching at the University of Fort Hare, as Professor and Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, in the Faculty of Science and Agriculture, in October 1988. He retired after 30 years of dedicated service, in January 2018.

Ben loved teaching and really enjoyed mentoring his students.  He loved watching the spark of knowledge being ignited and taking hold.  His graduate students are spread around the world and many of them still  keep in close contact with him.

Funeral Arrangements

Due to Covid level 4 lockdown regulations, only 50 people will be allowed at the funeral. It will take place on Wednesday 7 July 2021 at 10am outdoors at the Eco Shrine, 22 Summerton Drive, Hogsback. 

All Covid protocols will be respected (Masks, Social distancing, No tea after the funeral) 

Please bring a chair or blanket to sit on during the funeral.

The funeral service will be live streamed on this site at 10am and the recording will be available for viewing after that. 

Click for recording
Ben site invite

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Feel free to leave messages and stories about Ben down below. (Scroll right down and enter your name and email- all messages are moderated)

45 thoughts on “Ben Bester Memorial wall

  1. Ben Bester was an exceptional person: an agricultural economist with a sound grasp of practical matters who took beautiful photographs and was a wonderful cook. He was the epitome of what a gentleman should be, and also a generous and supportive friend.

    We will miss his wry, ironic sense of humour, and his ability to cut through pretence and deception to reach the heart of the matter.

    Felicity and Mathew

  2. My heart bleeds for your loss Diana.

    You and Ben have been a blessing to all of us. May you find peace that you have had the opportunity to have loved such a gentle man. May he rest in peace.

  3. Sincere condolences, Diana. Rus in vrede, Ben. Met jou opregtheid en integriteit het jy diep spore nagelaat in hierdie gemeenskap💝

    (via Whatsapp)

  4. Ah Diana I am so sad for the loss of Ben… an extraordinary man. Generous, dry humored
    Clever and always helpful – he will be missed by so many including me. So much love to you xxx

    (Via Whatsapp)

  5. Where do I even begin? Prof welcomed me when I joined the University of Fort Hare in February of 1989 … what a warm, heartfelt and genuine reception. From that day onwards, to the day of his retirement … his down-to-earth demeanor and politeness remained the same. We used to laugh when we cracked jokes about the OGs (old gang) left in the Faculty … we could hardly count them on one hand. “Ek het ‘n knop in my keel terwyl ek hierdie text skryf … was baie lief vir Prof”. uThixo abe nawe Njingalwazi. You may have left this earth but the precious memories we have of you will forever remain in our hearts … till we meet again. MARIA

  6. Oor die afgelope 20 jaar wat ek vir Ben geken het, het ons verhouding gegroei, van dr-pasient verhouding tot so ‘n ryk vriendskap. Dit was my besondere voorreg om die laaste stuk pad hier op aarde saam met hom te stap.
    Hierdie laaste 3 maande het ‘n kwaliteit van interaksie toegelaat, wat ek vir niks wil verruil nie. Gesprekke oor die sin van die lewe, die kortstondigheid van ons bestaan, maar ook in ligter luim, reise oor d wêreld, die Sterre stelsel en soveel meer.
    ‘n Man van die hoogste integriteit, korrek in sy optrede en uitsprake; volwassenheid wat sy volheid bereik het.
    Rus in vrede, Liewe Ben.
    Jou plek om ons koffie tafel gaan leeg wees…….

  7. Our very deepest condolences to Diana on her great loss. We didn’t know Ben but sometimes saw him out and about in Hogsback. Reading the tributes we regret not getting to know him. He was clearly an exemplary and special person. Diana, our hearts go out to you and we send you all we can, love. Rest in perfect peace, Ben. Judy and Pete van Dam

  8. Though it seems like yesterday, it must be nearly 20 years since Ben and I shared a place around the marvellous John Strydom’s kitchen table every Saturday morning…….wearing our Learner-Chef’s hats. Ben was undoubtedly John’s star pupil, as I can attest to, having subsequently sampled his fare around his and Dianna’s own gracious dinner table.

    Always willing to advise on any matter brought to him, I have most certainly been greatly enriched by Ben’s wisdom and gentle humour over the years.
    Until we all meet again, may God hold Dianna in the palm of His hand.

  9. Ben was a total gentleman and one of the most friendly and helpful people. His free website helped us with our cottage bookings and nothing was too much for him. We shared a love for photography. He will indeed be missed. Our special love to Diana at this time.
    Rest in Peace Ben.
    Lots of love
    Graham and Michele.

  10. I only saw the sad news yesterday. I knew somebody wold honour his memory in this way, so looked for the website – it was not hard to find.
    Ben was my first mentor and friend when, as a graduate student at Stellenbosch University in the 1970s he also welcomed me into his home and treated me as an equal. He was, as everyone has mentioned, a true gentleman with a great sense of humour, but also a real polymath with much to contribute to his students. May he rest in peace.

  11. Ben was my first mentor as a postgraduate student at Stellenbosch University in the 1970s, and I had the privilege of working with him as a research assistant. He was a man without pretensions, and had no hassles with treating his students as equals. I kept sporadic contact with him in later years, but not nearly as much as I wanted to. I am very sad about his passing: he was, as everyone has noted, a true gentleman and an accomplished scholar. May he rest in peace.

  12. Ben was an absolute Gentleman, kind, soft spoken and extremely capable. He gently tried to introduce me to my desktop, which was a miracle he actually achieved. He kindly trained our very inexperienced staff the wonders of computers and handed them back to us with the most amazing ability and confidence to perform their work exceedingly well. All of our employees never felt intimidated, but just loved his gentle method of turning them into pros. Marissa and I cherished his wonderful sense of humor and his appreciation of red wine. We truly only have wonderful memories of an amazing and outstanding human being. The world is poorer for having had to say good bye to him. Our sincere condolences to Diana and his family. We will miss him dearly.

  13. Diana, my sincere condolences for your loss. Sending healing prayers and comforting thoughts to you and other loved ones.
    Meeting Ben was one of the moments I always remembered whenever we saw each other on campus. He welcomed this shy, newly appointed, 29-year old girl first time during lunch at the Staff Centre and introduced me to far more people than I could remember. He was one of the OG who showed me the ropes when we were HODs together. Now, 20 years later, I can honestly say he was a pure, bright lighthouse during sometimes troubled waters, guiding me to where I needed to go – Dankie Ben!
    You truly are the definition of “Exemplary Gentleman”.

  14. Unfortunately I never really got to know Ben. My love and condolences to Dianna and admiration for all the care she gave him during his illness.

  15. Ek het vir Ben Bester die eerste keer in 1967 ontmoet toe hy as `n jong afgestudeerde `n deel van my ondersoekspan was in die Laeveld van die ou Transvaal. Daarna het ons beide verder nagraads gestudeer in die buiteland – hy by die University of New South Wales in Australië en ek by Iowa State University in die VSA.. In 1971 by my terugkeer na RSA het ek Ben weer ontmoet toe ons beide dosente geword het in die Departement Landbou-ekonomie aan die Universiteit van Stellenbosch. Ons was 9 jaar lank kollegas en baie goeie vriende, bure in Somerset Wes, muurbalgenote en gespreksgenote oor alle sake waarheen die gees ons sou lei. Ek was ook bevoorreg om Ben se promotor te wees vir sy doktorale proefskrif toe hy `n onderwerp aangepak het wat toendertyd as effe uit pas beskou is, maar vandag wel deeglik tersake is: Die regionale beplanning van afvalbestuur in metropolitaanse streke. In 1979 het ek `n ander pos by die universiteit aanvaar maar ek en Ben was steeds bure en ons gesinne het oor en weer gekuier. In 1983 het ek deeltydse boer in Paarl geword en Ben het ook vertrek om `n pos in die privaatsektor te aanvaar voordat hy by die Universiteit van Fort Hare aangesluit het.
    Ons het net een lewe en vriendskap en goeie kollegaskap is van die kosbaarste besittings wat jy op jou lewenspad kan bymekaar maak. Ben was vir my beide en dit is jammer dat ons deur omstandighede uitmekaar beweeg het. Ek is ook jammer dat ek dit nie meer vir Ben self kan sê nie

  16. Hi Ben, a gentleman of note. I presume you are just quietly sowing your web of decency and decorum in another dimension. You set a helluva example for us to live up to, but in your honour and because of my immense respect for you, I will give it a go, even though I am by nature a “groot bek”. Diana our hearts go out to you in spades… I now regret not interrupting more to speak to Ben and you on pizza Thursdays at Butterflys, but in my defence, it always felt as if I was “energically” seperating two siamese twins. It was as if your skins and cell membranes had mutineered and given up as you two appeared to morph into one being. So in this sad physical void, I will leave you with my take on grief…
    Grief is the tax we pay for love, so the deeper we love, and the deeper our connection, the deeper our grief. Personally I believe it is a price well worth paying. Rip Ben, and Dianna I wish you all that you wish yourself for the future, be kind to yourself in this difficult time, love Paul SiouxZ and the boys xxxxx

  17. Ode to a Gentleman (RIP Ben)

    If we can sit down and write down ONE WORD that summarises our life here on earth, what would it be?

    The one word that EVERYONE mentions, when they talk about Ben Bester is… GENTLEMAN. And that he was. Always. To everyone. Without exception.

    Then there were the blue check shirts. I can’t remember EVER seeing him in anything else. I stand corrected but, looking at the photo memories of him, the only time he did not wear blue check shirts, was at weddings. Then he wore white.

    One of my fondest memories is Thursday local night at Butterflys. All the crazy locals would congregate for their cheap, njammie, build-it-yourself pizza and raucous laughter and banter (some more raucous than others). And in the middle of all this was this serene love bubble. Ben and Diana would quietly sit chatting amidst all the chaos, staring deep into each other’s eyes in the candlelight, enjoying a romantic date night as if though they were the only ones there.

    This remains one of the biggest aspects that I take from Ben’s life, the deep love and respect he had for Diana. Even in the last days before his passing, watching them talk to one another and treat one another with “deernis” and respect, brought tears to my eyes.

    I would imagine that God has a special place in heaven for people who really understand how to love and respect other people, not in an ostentatious way, not in a superficial way, but in a quiet, always-there, real quiet kind of way. Like Ben.

    And Diana, you will never be alone. Ben will always be there with you. In the wind whispering through the trees. In the morning rays that gently touch the shrine. In the sweep of the eagle. In the smell of fresh rain on the grass. You will not be alone. We will always be there for you.

    Let us celebrate Ben’s life, not with fanfare, but in a QUIET way, by being there for one another, RESPECTING one another and treating everyone around us in a GENTLE way.

    You will be missed, Ben. I am sure you are watching all the other angels jiving in heaven, smiling down at us, wryly.

    Rest in peace, we will look after Diana.


  18. Oh Diana, my heart goes out to you. I am grateful for the blessed time I spent with both of you and thankful that you have so many wonderful people surrounding and holding space for you through this difficult time. In my thoughts gentle Diana 🙏🧡

  19. I have only just seen this very sad news – goodbye Ben, what a gentle, beautiful soul you were and how privileged we feel to have met you. Our sincere condolences to Diana and to your family. Rest Well dear Ben.

  20. RIP Ben. In the short time I really got to know you was so precious. I will never forget that. A real previledge. Diana the road ahead will not be easy. We will be there for you. May our good, Lord be with you and give you strength. God bless and much love. Fritz and Ansie.

  21. William and I were so sorry to hear of Ben’s illness and passing. We both respected him a great deal – he was clearly such a competent, capable person and always exuded a gentle calm. Chatting to him about work always made me feel better. We’re thinking of you, Diana, and send love.

  22. Rest in peace dear Ben and thank you for your gentle and wise presence. May beloved Diana be comforted and feel the loving support of friends and family at this time. Fiona.

  23. What we loved about Ben was his quiet and unassuming manner, and his modesty. As so many have shared, his non-judgemental regard for us all as equals was quite disarming, especially as we gradually learnt that he was a fountain of knowledge, which he was eager to share, but only if you invited his opinion!

    Two experiences bear mention. First, only a few years ago, Ben and Vincent did a number of mountain bike trips through the Hogsback forests, and on those rides, had wonderful discussions about our lives, our challenges, and the politics of the day. Then, as he was weakening during the last few months of his life, we shared a number of projects that needed to be completed, and what I loved most about those discussions was how we developed the solutions and approach together, brainstorming ideas with much laughter, reminiscences, and “red herrings” till we arrived at an end result that we were both happy with…

    Ben was immensely brave and forthright in how he dealt with his illness, but we are also sure that he was able to reach this state of peace and acceptance because of the wonderful support and commitment that Diana provided him on his last journey.

    Thank you Ben for setting such a wonderful example of humility and gentlemanliness for the rest of us.

    Vincent and Stephanie

  24. Our sincere condolences Diana, Rus in Vrede Ben, juig en vlieg hoog op jou Engel vlerke. Jy Sal werklik gemis word. We know Ben only a short while, can really say he was a perfect gentleman always a smile, Diana the road ahead will be difficult specially when you miss and long for him but we will be here for you. Gerhard and Naomi

  25. What a sad day it is for me as well – I had the highest respect for Ben, a quiet and kind man whose integrity was beyond reproach. He really cared for Hogsback and all its people and my life is poorer for not having him around anymore. Our best wishes and lots of love to Diana. Dave and Jane Pledger

  26. It is with great sadness to hear about the passing of Prof. Ben Bester. He was my honours and masters’ thesis supervisor. In 2014, he was my mentor. He was a true leader and layed a strong research foundation to my research career. He even encouraged me to persue a PhD. We’ve published 3 papers together. I will always remember his teachings. My deepest condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace.

  27. I had the privilege of working with Ben for two years until his retirement at the University of Fort Hare between 2017 and 2018. He impacted me positively with his wealth of experience and knowledge of the Agricultural Economics discipline and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with him. He will be sorely missed.

  28. I can only HIGH LIGHT all the wonderful remarks about Ben a truely remarkable man..and feel privileged to have met him. My heart felt Condolences to Diane and family and freands.

  29. Dearest Diana,
    Words cannot express how very saddened I am to learn of the loss of your Beloved B.
    Thank you for sharing him with us. Thank you for allowing him out to play. I spent many happy hours with Ben; threshing out problems. Ben had a special way of smiling and holding his head when we had clarity to go forward.
    Know that you are loved and Love.
    May you find comfort in the days ahead.
    May Ben Rest In Peace.

  30. What a gentlemen, a man always with a smile. I met Prof Ben Bester when I was doing my final year BSc Agric Econ in the university of Fort Hare, 2010. He supervised me in my Honours, 2011. “I wrote my comments on a note page, where is it Gidi?” This was his welcoming words when ever you consult him for research project. Prof Ben taught me two real life weapons namely; ‘descipline and respect’. He will tell you, you need to “read read books, articles and scholarly papers so that you make constructive and well aligned arguments especially when it comes to research. You need to exercise reading Gidi”. Whe he does not like something obvious you will see his hands shocking while he is speaking to you, know well “kushubile” . “He is late now and till we meet again Prof Ben Bester. May your soul rest in eternal peace. I am sending my deepest condolences to your family at large. Sodibana kwelizayo.

  31. Some of the happiest times of my childhood were spent on the farm with my cousins Ben and Gert. Ben was four years older than I was and I looked up to him in every sense of the word. It can be truly said in his case that the child was the father to the man.

    Peta and I were fortunate to meet up with him again, and to meet Diana. It was good to see them happy together. Love and condolences to Diana from both of us.

  32. My heartfelt condolences to you Diana and the Bester family. Farewell to the Gentleman, my mentor.I am saddened and I am pained by Prof’s passing. I keep writing and deleting this message because the right words to bid farewell to Prof (the Gentleman) escape me.

    Prof was my lecturer, my boss and my mentor. He hugely shaped my view on life, school, work and many other things. I was very lucky to have had him as a mentor because it’s really not that common to students to have professors who shape our intellect, interest and life in general, but Professor Ben Bester did that and I’m forever grateful.

    Prof and I were originally brought together for academic purposes, but he soon began my academic father. I’ve learned so much from his views and perspectives and his wealth of knowledge and that has always been fundamental in helping me navigate my academic life. Over the years after Prof left the university of Fort Hare I kept contact with him I was always reaching out to him to talk through almost any subject, especially my career and he would have a considered answer or, more important, a series of new questions.

    “You carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” Shannon Alder

    Professor Ben Bester’s legacy is a profound and lasting one. I am so grateful that I am one of the lives that he blessed with his presence. While I share the sadness of his family and friends, I celebrate his life and the difference he made in mine. I wish him a good voyage. He has earned a resting place for eternity.

  33. It is with great sadness we bid farewell to Ben. We remember him with great warmth and fondness. We recall many occasions, sitting and chatting with Ben and Di in front of the roaring fire on a cold Hogsback afternoon with his delicious freshly baked muffins and wide-ranging conversations on every topic under the sun. One had merely to ask the right questions to access Ben’s encyclopaedic knowledge, he knew so much, yet was never a know-it-all. With his gentle smile and warm eyes, he was able to really listen to others and to take interest in their perspective no matter how unusual. With Ben, things felt calm. A true gentleman. In Xhosa we say “umthi omkhulu uwile” – and indeed a big tree has fallen. But Ben, you will live on in our memories and the stories we will tell. The image of you, glass in hand, sitting by the fireplace, a big smile, those caring eyes – we see you like it was yesterday. We will miss you. Rest in peace, lala ngoxolo.

  34. In my mind Ben was the rebel gentleman. While with the best of manners and the calmest of ways he went against the norm and lived his life true to himself. He helped me to understand that I am not normal and never will be. In his acceptance I found calm. We spoke for long hours about failed relationship after failed relationship that I had had, in a time that divorce was taboo. We laughed at the answer to the meaning of life being calculated as 42. We tried to make koetsisters and failed sweetly. We made silly pancakes and he introduced me to the most addictive computer game. He was the best uncle a young artist in the making could have asked for. He turned Christmas into hours of fun and a bowl full of chocolates (as I am writing this on world chocolate day). He built my first website and helped me see my worth. In a time that I was still trying to come to terms with who I wanted to be, he was already accepting me. Even though he was probably the smartest man in any room, he never made you feel that. He always wanted to know what I thought. Time and distance made the last couple of decades hard to keep in contact. I however always got his news through my parents and always felt connected. Ben, like a detail in a shadow was always there, you just had to look to see him, to appreciate him. If like someone mentioned that grief is a tax on love… Im paying mine for my lifetime of loving a great man. Thank you Ben for being a great uncle to me.

  35. Thank you Rudi for your words.
    I feel I have a long, steep climb before I feel whole again
    On the other hand am so appreciative of our 19 happy years together.
    Whatever we did together worked.
    Thank you Maggie for this memorial wall and so much else.

  36. Farewell to my mentor Proffesor Bester.This was really hard to believe maybe because you were still waiting for my report.Thank you for the knowledge you have imparted to me and thank you for being a great supervisor to me.
    May his soul rest in peace.

  37. Prof Bester was my mentor and supervisor at the University of Fort Hare. Our close encounter began in the final year of my undergraduate degree in 2010, when he supervised my seminar and research project. We had a rocky start and he came across as a difficult person. I began to understand that he was not being difficult, he only wanted me to understand what I was doing and the reasons I was doing it. Since then, we became very close and he went on to supervise me at an Honours and Masters levels. Some of the pictures that have been used for this memorial were taken by me at Ntlamvukazi and Qwakele in the Eastern Cape Province in 2012. These were the sites where I collected data for my Masters dissertation. I was honoured to host him at my home during this visit. He did not mind to meet my family, although they could not communicate properly due to a language barrier. He let me drive his car (green Citi Golf). We kept in contact even after I left to Stellenbosch and I would visit him at his office before his retirement. He was an extraordinary human being. He played a massive role in shaping my career and has exposed me to opportunities that have helped me grow in many respects. He made me believe that I can achieve anything as long as I put my mind to it and understand the purpose of doing it. I am saddened by his passing and I feel that I did not keep as much contact with him as I should have. Among other things, I wished for him to be present when I graduate for my PhD. May his soul rest in eternal peace. Condolences to his family.

  38. Ben Bester taught me agricultural economics at Stellenbosch University. Many years later I worked for an agricultural firm based in Bisho. It was turbulent political times in the early 1990’s and our projects got hit one after the other. Just before closing down our office, my manager who was also a family friend and father figure, briefed me on the dire situation and casually mentioned about a lecturing position going at Fort Hare that will suit me to a tee and that he would love me to apply for. I almost died at the mere though of teaching, but it was an option and I did not wat to disappoint my boss! After about an hour into the interview I felt all was going amazingly well. Then the questioning stopped. Ben seemed to think deeply for a while, and then said to me: “David, ek kan nou vir jou die pos aanbied maar ek voel aan dat jy nie werklik hierdie pos wil he nie” to which I responded: “Baie dankie Ben. Jy is absoluut reg. Ek is nie n lektor mens nie. Hierdie pos sal my stadig doodmaak. Nou kan ek ten minste vir my bestuurder vertel dat ek probeer het.” That day Ben saved my sanity! We had a great visit in KWT and met several times after that! RIP Ben

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