Bruce Benson plays "Taps" during the 2017 Veterans Day Assembly at Webb City High School

Bruce Benson

City mourns loss of patriotic musician

Webb City lost its Bugle Boy, 95-year-old Bruce Benson, on Feb. 9.

Benson, first came to southwest Missouri as a soldier at Camp Crowder. He was playing in the band when he met and later proposed to one of the USO dancers, Jane Van Hoose, of Webb City.

They were married after Bruce returned from overseas duty and made their home in Webb City. Music continued to play a part in Bruce’s life, and Jane was known for teaching young ballerinas.

Jane and Bruce Benson dancing

Jane and Bruce Benson take the lead during a senior citizens dance.

Playing “Taps” nightly in front of his apartment sometimes brought a crowd, including his daughter, Susie Crutcher. At top, fellow veterans are at attention as Bruce plays his cornet.

In his later years, Bruce gained national attention for playing “Taps” at sundown every night. He’d step outside his apartment in the lobby of the old Civic Theater and face the post office’s flag across Daugherty Street. He took every opportunity to play his cornet at special events, especially those with a patriotic flavor.

A marble bench was dedicated in his honor in April in Memorial Park.

Bruce Benson memorial bench

Graham McGaw pays tribute to Bruce Benson during the dedication of a marble bench in his honor in Memorial Park.

Brian Ward and family

Brian Ward

The community held its breath for Brian Ward and his son to recover after they were struck by a drunk driver while on vacation in Florida. Both recovered, and Brian returned to work as a Webb City Police officer.

Clay Arft

Clay Arft

Oronogo Fire Chief Clay Arft, 32, became severely ill from a mysterious disease that zapped his strength. It was identified as rhabdomyolysis while Clay was being treated and rehabilitating for 68 days at the Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City. When he came home July 3 to a big welcome at the fire department, he wrote on Facebook, “I’m truly blessed to be alive and be able to walk out of here and be headed home.”

Zechariah Stayon and Jacob Williams

Jacob Williams

Police officer Jacob Williams carries two specialized tourniquets for emergencies. They were needed in July when he was credited for saving the life of Joplin High School senior Zechariah Stayon. It was at a graduation party in Webb City when Stayon fell through a window and was bleeding uncontrollably… until Williams arrived with his tourniquets. Stayon, with family and friends, attended a city council meeting to honor Williams.

Rev. Wayne Porter

The Rev. Wayne Porter wasn’t quite sure how honored he should feel in February when Flag City Brewing named its new porter beer The Rev. Wayne Porter. 

Porter, a retired Presbyterian minister and Habitat for Humanity volunteer, politely gave the porter a taste during a ceremony but declined to endorse it for professional reasons.

Eileen Nichols

Not is pleasantly surprised by the unveiling of a sign in her honor.

Eileen Nichols was surprised (while dressed as Rosie the Riveter for Halloween) by the presentation of a sign honoring the vision she had to start the Webb City Farmers Market and her 20 years of dedication since then. The sign will hang on the commercial kitchen facing the pavilion.

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