Ralph Benton (Benny) Deaton, 87, was born June 15, 1934 in Erlanger, Kentucky to Edward and Sarah Deaton. He survived his parents, two brothers James Edward and Keith Albert, and sister Luvenia Adella Deaton DeGraw. Benny passed away at home June 22,2021.
Benny attended church school in Covington, Kentucky until his junior year enrollment at Mt. Pisgah Academy in Candler, North Carolina. Seeing Mt. Pisgah from his cabin, he fell in love with the mountains. A music lover with a clear tenor voice, Benny sang first tenor in the Mt. Pisgah Quartet. Singing for churches and campmeetings was customary for him. Back home, Benny, his brother Keith and sister Luvenia, the Deaton Trio, did the same. The trio once won first place in a local talent show aired on radio.
Finances dictated that he finish school at Highland Academy in Portland, Tennessee. He also loved this rural setting and the many lifelong friends he made there.
Benny joined the U.S. Army as a medic in 1958. After training at Fort Sam Houston, he was sent to Germany just after his marriage to Barbara Kautz. The two had a daughter, Kimberly Ann, and a son, Kevin Forest.
After the marriage failed, Benny graduated as a registered nurse from Kettering College of Medical Arts. He then joined the psychiatry staff at Kettering Medical Center. While there, he met and married Janice Elaine Gammenthaler. The two worked at Kettering for 20 years—she as a writer/editor; he as a nurse in psychiatry. (Later, she also became a registered nurse.)
In 1994, Benny and Janice moved to Murphy, North Carolina, where they worked for some 20 years at Murphy Medical Center.
Benny, a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, treasured a relationship with Jesus and believed in the imminent return of the Savior.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Janice; daughter Kimberly Ann (Murphy); son Kevin Forest (Lucy) (Warsaw, Kentucky); brother-in-law Jack DeGraw (Luvenia, deceased) (Forest City, Florida); brother-in-law Sam Gammenthaler,MD. (Loretha) (Tangerine, Florida); sister-in-law Pamela Gammenthaler (Robert, deceased) (Ooltewah, Tennessee); 5 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren, nephews, nieces.
A modest man, he long ago expressed no interest in a funeral, memorial service or traditional recognition, preferring to share in the successes of the Burmese refugee children the Deatons and others support in Christian education through F.R.E.E. Friends of Refugees providing Education and Empowerment. www.freerefugees.org. F.R.E.E. 2100 Riverside Parkway, Suite 128 B186 Lawrenceville, GA. 30043
Friends may smile at a college assignment paper he somehow saved: BENNY’S PHILOSOPHICAL OUTLOOK: Pet a dog; Plant a flower; Smile at the bus driver; Smile at a stranger; Go barefoot; Look for funny shapes in the clouds; Visit an old person; Stop an argument; Warm a heart; Call up an old friend; Wash a window; Take an ordinary object and find beauty in it; Show a child how to whistle; Think of 3 good things that happened to you yesterday; Forgive a mistake; Do what someone else wants to do; Be patient; Put yourself in another’s place; Say ‘thank you’ with meaning; Look for truth; Inspire someone; Lower your voice; Make time for a young person; Pick up someone else’s litter; Let your kindness come out; Erase worry and fear of the unknown; Have some fun!