Ben Fun Ong

May 17, 1912 - Feb 13, 2006

Obituary

By David van den BERG DAVIDVANDENBERG@ARIZONAREPUBLIC.COM

THE PASSING OF A PIONEER
LIBERTY MARKET OWNER CARED FOR COMMUNITY FOR DECADES
Funeral services are scheduled today for longtime Liberty Market owner Ben Ong.
Ong, 93, died peacefully in his Gilbert home Monday, said his son, Benton, who described his father as a true pioneer of Gilbert.
Ong and his wife, Mae, owned Liberty Market, one of the town’s stalwart businesses that is still operating in the downtown Heritage District, from 1943 to 1981.
“He was probably one of the longer surviving pioneers that was her in Gilbert,” Benton said. He was here when they only had 800 people in town. He watched the area grow. They had a lot to do with the growing of Gilbert.”
Fifteen years after purchasing the store from Eddie and Edith Dong, the Ongs doubled the size and modernized the store in 1958, Benton said.
For part of the time the Ong’s owned Liberty Market, the store offered delivery service in what Benton called a “little yellow truck with Liberty Market on the side.”
Both in the store and in the community, Benton said customers were taken care of.
“He always helped out a lot of people in the store,” he said.

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Ben Ong was a big sports fan, his son said. On Saturday afternoons, father and son would listen to Arizona State University football games on a Philco radio, Benton recalled.
Benton went with his father to Phoenix Giants minor league baseball games.
Ben Ong’s sports watching also included his son’s games. Benton competed in high school basketball and baseball and summer league baseball, and said his father was there to root him on.
“He never missed any of my games,” he said.
Ben and Mae Ong were active in the community.
Mae worked as a reporter and a photographer for the Gilbert Enterprise newspaper from 1966 to 1968. Both Mae and Ben were members of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, and Mae helped found the Gilbert Promotional Corp., which runs Gilbert Days.
Benton and his sister, Joycelyn, graduated from Arizona State. Both children were products of Gilbert public schools.
Ben Ong was born in China in 1912. He came to the United States in 1929 to Angel Island near San Francisco, and worked as a railroad cook for about a year before coming to Pheonix, Mae Ong said.
He started work at Liberty Market in Gilbert in 1936 and returned to San Francisco in 1941 and married Mae. Two years later, they both came back to Gilbert and bought Liberty Market.
“He loved Gilbert so much,” Mae said. “He loved that little store, and he loved the people.”
Ong is survived by his wife, Mae; son, Benton; daughter, Joycelyn; Benton’s wife, Wendee, and their sons Benton Jr. and Byron; and by Joycelyn’s husband, Norman Sakata, and their sons Mitchell and Steven.

Funeral Home:
Falconer Funeral Home
251 West Juniper Avenue
Gilbert, AZ
US

Visitation:
Falconer Funeral Home
251 West Juniper Avenue
Gilbert, AZ
US

Service:
Falconer Funeral Home
251 West Juniper Avenue
Gilbert, AZ
US

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