Ben R Barnhill

February 4, 1941October 30, 2017

Ben R. Barnhill passed away peacefully October 30, 2017, surrounded by his family. He was born February 4, 1941, in East Prairie, MO, to Paul Wesley and Howard Gordon Barnhill. The family moved to Harrisburg, Illinois, when Ben was seven years old. He married Kathy Wiley on July 10, 1964. Survivors include his wife, Kathy; daughter, Kristin (Tim) McCoy; two grandsons—Alexander Smith and Aidan McCoy; two brothers—Larry (Becky) Barnhill, Harrisburg IL; Paul Barnhill, Bradenton FL; brother-in-law Roger (Elizabeth) Wiley, Punta Gorda, FL; sister-in-law Marilyn Wiley, St. Louis, MO; as well as three nieces and five nephews. One brother (Jack Barnhill) and five sisters (June Barnhill, Betty Taylor, Jane Boggs, Sue Barnhill, and Mary Ann Barnhill) predeceased him. Ben joined the US Navy the day after graduating from Harrisburg High School in 1959, and was truly proud of his service to his country. Counted among his cherished memories are the two years he served as Medical Corpsman while stationed on Guam. Attending Murray State University, Ben received both his Bachelor of Science degree in 1967 and his Master’s Degree in Education in 1968; later he did post-graduate work at Illinois State University. After graduating from college, he and Kathy moved to Bloomington after accepting offers to teach in District #87. Ben taught Economics and American History at Bloomington High School for 32 years, retiring in 2000. He was admired and respected by his students and has stayed in touch with many of his former students throughout the years. Ben enjoyed each day of his teaching career and was a visible, vocal supporter at Bloomington High School sporting events. Ben was a private and humble man who loved his family and treasured the many friends he made throughout the years. His golfing buddies and fellow sports enthusiasts were truly special to him. In addition to his passion for golf, he was a dog lover who adopted five Great Danes, one little mutt, and two very special Yellow Labs over the course of his life. When he could take long walks with them (especially Lucky and Lilly the last twelve years) and have his grandsons along for the walks, those were the best of times for him. In keeping with Ben’s wishes, cremation rites have been accorded. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, November 3, 2017 at Mausoleum Chapel in East Lawn Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials may be made to The Community Cancer Center, 407 Vernon Ave., Normal, IL 61761, or Barnes Jewish Foundation Siteman Cancer Center, PO Box 790369, Saint Louis, MO 63179-9917. Online condolences may be shared with the family at


  • Memorial Service Friday, November 3, 2017


Ben R Barnhill

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Cindy Furler

November 12, 2017

Kathy, I just heard about Ben's passing. My sincere sympathies to you and your family.


November 6, 2017

My first guest book sign in didn't include my name. is Ophelia Neal, I graduated from BHS in '73, Mr. Barnhill was one of the greatest history teacher, I thought; he seen in me the potential I could become, he would encourage me to sign up for college prep courses, I got in the Upward Bound Program specially designed to help blacks to prepare for college; Mr. Barnhill seen this in me as a sophomore. He had the most awesome sense of humor, he was one of my angels in person form. I never forgot him, always thought of him fondly. Thank Mr. Barnhill, u changed more lives then u realize. Rest On. Peace and love to the family

Ophelia Neal, Hiram, GA.

November 5, 2017

Kathy and family,
My sympathies to you as you cope with Ben's passing. For me, teaching at BHS in the same hallway was a great experience. He was always perceptive and level-headed. Also amusing in swinging his golf club as he lectured! And occasionally exclaiming, Great balls of fire! Ben was a helpful colleague who influenced many of us. He will be missed.

May you be comforted,
Linda Coffman Winterland

November 4, 2017

Mr. Barnhill was my high school history teacher, him and I always crack jokes with each other; he seen in me what I didn't see at that time, this is how I remember him in H.S. smiling. My condolscences to the wife and children, grands, U had a angel in ur midst as Mr. Barnhill.

Donna Dillon

November 4, 2017

Kathy and Kristi, I am so sorry for your loss. Ben's personality was captured beautifully in his obituary. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers. Take care.

November 4, 2017

Ben Barnhill was a great teacher. He had a wonderful sense of humor, and helped to shape many young lives including mine. I remember him fondly. Deepest sympathy to the Barnhill family.
Ron Sutter BHS class of 73


November 3, 2017

My best friend. Missing you already. SL

Rebecca Barekman-Thoms

November 3, 2017

I am so sorry for your loss. Mr. Barnhill was one of my favorite teachers. He made Goverment and Economics interesting. Prayers for your family. Rebecca Barekman-Thoms

Mary Lou Sutter

November 2, 2017

.He was the best teacher I ever had. Made American History interesting class of 71. Both my daughters had him too & they loved him too 93 & 96. God bless you Mary Lou (Miller) Sutter

John and Vickie Robertson

November 2, 2017

We are very sorry to hear this news. Vickie and I both had Ben for classes at BHS and were in class of 1981. I lived a block away on Jackson Street so would also see him in the neighborhood. Always one of my favorite teachers as he made Economics and everything interesting and always had a smile for us. I last saw Ben a few years ago when many of the BHS tennis teams had a gathering in town at Evergreen Racquet Club - we asked Ed Rozboril to spread word about a happy hour event to teachers and sure enough, Ben came and many of us got to see him!