Benjamin Franklin Oliver

Published 9:21 pm Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 25, 2011

Benjamin Franklin “Bennie” Oliver Sr., 91, of Suffolk, died Wednesday, May 25, 2011, at Sentara Obici Hospital, with his family by his side. Bennie was born Sept. 12, 1919, the son of the late Jeremiah and Luemma Babb Oliver, in Isle of Wight County, Va. He was the youngest son of 12 children.

He attended Isle of Wight County Schools and began his adult career at Longview Grocery, owned by his brother, Jesse. At the age of 17, he married his sweetheart, Evelyn McClenny, whom he was married to for 68 years until her death in 2005.

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Bennie served in the U.S. Army during World War II, serving two years in France. He then returned and operated Red Top Grocery. Later, he built his own grocery/gas station on Godwin Boulevard. In the spirit of entrepreneurship and since 1978, he operated this location as Oliver Pools and Supplies.

He was a life member of Whitehead’s Grove Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon, Sunday school teacher and superintendent.

He is survived by his devoted son, B. Franklin “Frank” Oliver Jr. and wife, Alice; granddaughters, Julie O. Fleming and husband, Mark, of Raleigh, N.C., and Kimberly O. Butler and husband, Jay, of Suffolk; three great-grandsons, Robert and Oliver Fleming and Marcus Welch; sister, Ethel Sizemore; and many nieces and nephews, friends, and extended family, and his toy poodle, Tiger.

A graveside funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 29, in Whitehead’s Grove Baptist Church Cemetery. Family and friends will gather for visitation from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday in Colonial Funeral Home and at other times in the son’s home.

The family suggests memorial contributions to Whitehead’s Grove Baptist Church, 18366 Benn’s Church Blvd., Smithfield, VA 23430.

Arrangements are in the care of Colonial Funeral Home, Smithfield.