Lt. Col. Benjamin Borom Mathis, former owner of Mathis Olds-Buick-Cadillac Inc. in Chicopee, Mass., 94, died March 9,2013 at his home in Thomaston surrounded by his loving family.

He was born Jan. 9, 1919 in Elba, Ala. to Pope Gordon Mathis and Celia McClellan Mathis. He grew up in Elba and graduated from Elba High School in the class of 1936. He graduated from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa with a bachelor’s degree in commerce and business administration. He was a member of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity Omicron Chapter.

Ben entered the United States Air Force in September 1940 and was accepted to Flight School in Randolph and Kelly Fields, Texas. He graduated Flight School in 1941 and was assigned to Langley Field, Va. flying B-18’s and PT-17’s. His unit’s mission was to patrol from Miami up the entire East coast to Newfoundland looking for enemy submarines. In September 1943 the U.S. Navy took over the anti-submarine mission from the Army Air Corps and Major Mathis was assigned to Casper, Wyo. as an instructor in the B-24.

He joined the Second Emergency Rescue Squadron at Keesler Field, Miss. as its operations officer, joining his friend Capt. Dwight Lewis. He remained as the ops officer until Lewis was reassigned stateside and then Ben took over as commanding officer.

In November 1945, he got out of the service and went to work in the automobile business selling Oldsmobiles, Buicks and Cadillacs. He was recalled into the Air Rescue Service at McDill AFB from 1946 to 1947. During the Korean Conflict in 1951, he was stationed at Orly Field in Paris, France under the command of Dwight Eisenhower. He remained in the Reserve until 1961, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

During the mid-60s, Ben purchased A. J. Stonina Inc., a dealership that he had worked in since 1941 and changed the name to Mathis Olds, Buick, Cadillac Inc. He ran the business until he sold it in 1995.

Mr. Mathis was director of the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce from 1968 to 1971, president of the Military Affairs Committee at Westover Air Force Base from 1964 to 1984, member of the Board of Directors Massachusetts State Auto Dealers Association from 1986 to 1989, 18-year member of the Board of Directors of the New England Oldsmobile Dealer Association Inc. from 1972 to 1990. He was awarded the Master Dealer Award with Cadillac seven years in a row.

He was a member of the Chicopee Kiwanis club, the Royal Order of Jesters and the Melha Shriners in Springfield, Mass. He offered transportation to the patients and their families at the Shriners Hospital Burn Center in Springfield.

Ben enjoyed his home in Otis, Mass., golf, tennis, Marco Island, visiting his granddaughter on Monhegan Island and driving in his van with his loyal canine friend, Peanut.

He was predeceased by his wife, Alfreda Stonina Mathis; sister, Sara English and by a brother, Malcolm Mathis. He is survived by his daughters, Daria Peck of Thomaston, Tina Warfield and her husband Roy of San Diego, Heidi Franzen and her husband Eric of Indian Harbor Beach, Fla.; grandchildren: Tralice Bracy and her husband Robert of St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands, Jessie Peck of Thomaston, Willow B. Piersol and her husband Dave Dunbar of Medford, Mass., William B. Piersol III and his wife MaiVu of Singapore, Sara Wamsley and her husband Jim of Cocoa Beach, Fla., Rebecca Turkall and her husband Bret of Indian Harbor Beach, Fla., Erica Franzen of E. Orleans, Mass.; great-grandchildren: Taliesin Peck of Thomaston,  Raina Wamsley of Cocoa Beach, Fla., Lana Turkall of Indian Harbor Beach, Fla., Hannah Piersol of Singapore, Shaffer Piersol of Singapore, Wyatt Bracy of St. Croix, Calum Dunbar of Medford, Mass.

A graveside service with military honors will be held at the Fairview Cemetery in Chicopee, Mass. in the spring.

Contributions in Ben’s memory may be made to Melha Shriner’s, 133 Longhill St., Springfield, MA 01108 or the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675.

You are welcome to share your condolences with the family by visiting their Book of Memories at Arrangements are entrusted to Hall Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 78 Main St., Thomaston, ME.