Benjamin Schultz Pressnell

November 2, 1972September 11, 2011

Benjamin Schultz Pressnell, age 38, passed away in the early morning hours of Sunday, September 11, 2011, at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. Ben’s unexpected and untimely passing came after a brief illness and hospitalization. Ben was born on November 2, 1972, in Knoxville. He graduated from Claiborne High School in 1990. Ben received his Bachelor of Science degree in philosophy from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., in 1994. He then followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and mentor, William Guy “Bill” Harrell, Jr., and earned his juris doctorate from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1997. After spending time as a law clerk in Knoxville and New York City, Ben returned to his hometown to become owner and managing partner of Pressnell and Harrell, Attorneys in 1999. He continued his private law practice until 2009, when he joined the Eighth Judicial District Public Defenders conference as an assistant public defender. Throughout his legal career Ben championed the rights of the criminally accused. In 2006 Ben married Amy Drittler, originally of Dover, Ark. In 2009 Ben and Amy celebrated their greatest joy, the birth of their daughter, Harper. Next month marks Ben and Amy’s five-year wedding anniversary and Harper’s second birthday. Ben was quick to lend a favorite book, share a joke, mow a yard, move a rock or do any other number of tasks to help those in need. The number of lives he touched cannot ever be measured. Most importantly of all, Ben loved the outdoors. In spite of his skill in the courtroom, he was always most comfortable sitting on his tractor in his “having fun clothes.” Ben was an active hiker who enjoyed back country camping and who had accomplished many sections of the Appalachian Trail. He also spent much of his time kayaking in the rivers of East Tennessee and the surrounding region. Ben loved a good campfire and good conversation with his friends and preferred the woods to being contained within four walls. Ben’s constant companion for the past 10 ½ years was his beloved German Shepherd, Spartakus, who preceded him in death on August 30, 2011. Ben and Spartakus are now enjoying an eternal hike together. After Harper’s birth, Ben thrived in the love that he felt for his child. Harper and Ben shared a bowl of cereal and piece of toast together each morning, and spent their afternoons playing outside and blowing bubbles. Ben loved to take Harper for rides on his back and enjoyed multiple cups of her pretend tea and coffee. Ben was an extraordinary father and would want to be remembered for his role as a parent more than any other personal or professional accomplishment in his life. Ben was preceded in death by his grandfather, William Guy “Bill” Harrell, Jr., aunts, Margaret Harrell and Nell Harrell Crawford; and his dog, Spartakus. He is survived by his wife, Amy Drittler, and daughter, Harper Claire Pressnell; his parents, Mike and Nancy Hansard; his sister and brother-in-law, Amanda and Dustin English; his niece, Ashlynn Roberts; his grandmother, Sterlynn Harrell; numerous aunts, uncles and cousins; and a host of friends and extended family. Pallbearers include Chris Loope, Sean Johnson, Whitt Shuford, Charlton Vass, Eric Chadwell, Joe Parkey, Shane Breeding, Dan Korth, Chad Wilson and Brent Cheek. Honorary pallbearers include Dustin English, Willie Roberts and the legal and law enforcement communities of Claiborne and surrounding counties. Visitation will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, September 15, at Coffey Funeral Home in New Tazewell, with a celebration of Ben’s life to follow at 8 p.m. Burial will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday, September 16, at Irish Memorial Gardens in Tazewell. Those attending the burial are encouraged to wear their “having fun clothes” in honor of Ben. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Harper Claire Pressnell account at Citizens Bank in Harrogate to help fund


  • Visitation Thursday, September 15, 2011
  • Funeral Service Thursday, September 15, 2011

Benjamin Schultz Pressnell

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Cindy SprenzRN

April 13, 2012

Dear Sweet Amy, Don't know why I was thinking of you but glad I have a way to sya you are treasured and prayed for often

John King

April 5, 2012

I am saddened to hear that Ben is no longer among us, especially sad that he will not get to continue his journey as spouse and father. I was a friend, classmate, and I might have even taught him something about canoeing and camping back in the day. I am glad to have known him, sad to lose his humor, decency, and intellect. My heart goes out to the family.

Paul Whetstone

October 27, 2011

Dear Amy -- I was in General Sessions Court this morning (October 27, 2011) and saw that Ben was not in Court. I asked the bailiff where Ben was and was shocked to learn of his death. I knew nothing of it. Ben had spoken to me with great pride about his family. I plan to get a letter to you for the benefit of your daughter. I am terribly saddened. I trust that your recovery from this tremendous loss is underway.

Paul Whetstone


October 26, 2011

When I think of Ben Pressnell, I think of the outdoors, Garrison Keillor, Bob Dylan, and fun.
Ben, you lived a life full of fun and adventure. May God be with your family, dear friend, as I'm sure they are lost without you.

Mary Delph & Little Glenn Frasure

September 25, 2011

you will be dearly missed!!!!! your family will be in our prayers.

mary cunliffe

September 22, 2011

Sorry to hear about ben's passing your family is in my thoughts and prayers god bless love ya ben

Alice Queener

September 21, 2011

To the family of Ben,
I am so saddened and angered to learn of Ben’s passing. It’s surreal and I have so many regrets. I first met Ben during undergrad at UT- he dated my best friend holly- I accompanied them on many dates; spending time at the cabin and apt. in Tazewell; wining and dining in Knoxville; and enjoying watching movies-(I fondly remember watching Gladiator) He supported me when I learned of my unplanned pregnancy and promised I’d make a wonderful mother. He attended my baby shower and I have funny pics with him wearing diapers-hilarious-he was always such a good sport . I last spoke with ben a couple of years ago- always helping me with custodial legal advice. Camilla and I spent a lot of nights up at the cabin-she was so little and loved the crackling fire. Ben adored her, so I can only imagine how much he loved his own precious daughter. I will miss talking politics with Ben. I will miss spartikus,too. I am saddened I wasn’t able to attend the services-I am now disabled and couldn’t drive. Ben will always remain in my heart-I am so sorry for all of you who’ve lost your wonderful BEN!!!!!He will be loved and missed forever and always by so so many!

Dale Bennett

September 21, 2011

Just heard if this sad news today. Our deepest sympathy to the family and Amy's family here in Dover. Thoughts and prayers to you all. The Bennett's, Dale, Jessie and Curtis

Kelly Marsh Casper

September 17, 2011

The Family of Ben Pressnell:
My thoughts and sympathies are with you during this sad time. Ben has always been one of my favorite people and his passing is not only a loss to those who knew him personally, but to the world itself, because we were all lucky to know him. I still remember my last conversation with him, and remember clearly how happy he was when he spoke of Amy and Harper, and when we discussed plans to catch up & for me to meet them my next trip home to visit. I wish I was able to be there in person to celebrate his life and lend my support. Also sending a big hug to Sterlynn. If there is anything you need, please let me know.

Amelia Crotwell

September 16, 2011

Ben was a person I just really liked. I was always glad to see him and have a chance to hear what he was doing. Whenever I would see him around the court house or during law school, he was jolly and positive and interesting to talk to. I did not know him well, but I always wanted to know him more. The photos you've posted on this site show his great smile that he wore every time I saw him and his shining love for his wife and daughter. My deep sympathy for your loss.