Obituary of Ben Primer
Ben M. Primer lll died February 11, 2019 after a lingering illness in Princeton, New Jersey. Born in Seattle to Benjamin M. Primer II and Ann Keough, Ben and his four younger siblings saw much of the U. S. while his dad was a physician in the U. S. Public Health Service. The family settled in San Marcos, Texas where Ben graduated from San Marcos High School.
In 1967, he went to Rice University, majoring in History where he made life long friends as a member of Weiss College. Ben was active in the college student government, wrote for the college paper and supported the Baptist Student Union where he helped serve the weekly meal for the students. Some of his favorite recipes come from this time; they have fed thousands.
Because of a low draft number, he joined the ROTC before going to graduate school. He rose to the rank of Major in the Army Reserves in military intelligence, retiring just before the Gulf War.
He was accepted for graduate work at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Under Professor Louis Galambos, Ben focused his research upon the effects of modern business methods on the organizations of five Protestant denominational structures during early twentieth century. He earned a Ph.D in 1977.
While at Johns Hopkins he met his future wife Terry Thomas at Woodbrook Baptist Church. They married In 1977. They have three sons, Michael Thomas Primer, Christopher Caldwell Primer and David Neal Primer.
As Terry completed a M.Div. at Yale Divinity school, Ben served as an adjunct professor at the University of Hartford and an administrative assistant in the Department of Urology at Yale Medical School.
They returned to Baltimore in 1980 where Ben worked for the Baltimore Neighborhood Heritage Project, an inventive and creative initiative to document the unique history and character of Baltimore's ethnic areas. He later learned about the archival preservation of records, which led to his appointment as the archivist for Maryland Senator Charles "Mac" Mathias. Ben later worked at the Johns Hopkins University Library and for the Maryland State Archives as the Head of Public Services.
In 1989, he was recruited to work for Princeton University. He joyfully worked there for 25 years, first as the University Archivist and then as the Associate University Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections.
He was an active participant at Calvary Baptist Church in Hopewell, the Hopewell Valley Chorus and a number of professional organizations. In 2014, he was selected to be a Fellow in the Society of American Archivists, a designation that signifies outstanding leadership and innovation as recognized by one's peers. He served on the Board of both that Society as well as its Foundation.
Those who knew Ben will never forget his honesty, sincerity and warmth. If he could feed the World his “Chickagetti” and his chocolate Scothc Cake, there might be an outbreak of peace.
Ben is survived by his wife Terry Thomas Primer, his sons Christopher Caldwell Primer and David Neal Primer of Hopewell, NJ; his brothers and their spouses John and Laura Primer, Don and Kathy Primer; his sisters and their husbands Leslie and Robert Jones, and Pegi Eckart; his step mother, Kay Primer, as well as a number of cousins, nieces and nephews. He was pre-deceased by his parents Benjamin M. Primer ll, Anne Keough Peterson and his son Michael Thomas Primer.
The memorial service will be held March 2 at Calvary Baptist Church at 11 am in Hopewell, NJ. Reception to follow from 12-2 pm. Interment will be at the Woodbrook Baptist Church columbarium at a later date.