James Benton (Ben) Souders
In November of 2017, we lost a great Viking warrior alum, James Ben Souders who passed away at age 86 after a long illness. “Benny” was born in El Dorado, Kansas in 1931 and moved to Long Beach with his family in 1940. Ben grew up in Long Beach, and after graduating from Long Beach Poly in 1949, he went on to play baseball for Joe Hicks at Long Beach City College. After LBCC he attended Fresno State University, where he continued to play baseball and was an outstanding pitcher, graduating in 1953. After college, he became an elite softball player for the Long Beach Nitehawks and Lakewood Jets, among other teams.
Ben was proud of his 30-year career with the Long Beach Fire Department and served as Fire Chief from 1984-1988. Ben was a long-time teacher of Fire Science at Long Beach City College and was a mentor to many young Vikings, inspiring them to join the brotherhood of firefighters.
Ben served on the board of the Long Beach chapter of the American Red Cross for many years after retirement. He was a generous financial supporter of LBCC Athletics and the College Promise.