Benjamin Franklin Chappell III

Aug 20 1942
Jan 5 2023
80 Years
Steelville, Pennsylvania

Benjamin Franklin Chappell III left this earth on January 5, 2023, in Steelville, West Fallowfield Township, in the home along the Octoraro Creek he had built and lived in since 1981. He was born in Philadelphia on August 20, 1942, the son of the late Benjamin Franklin Chappell II and Elizabeth McDonough Chappell. He graduated from Cardinal Dougherty High School and received B.A and M.A. degrees at West Chester State College (now University). As a veteran of the U.S Army (1966 to 1968) and Catholic Church (1942 to ca. 1965), he retained a healthy skepticism of hierarchy, bureaucracy, and received wisdom for his entire adult life.

A voracious reader and enthusiastic lecturer with a prodigious memory, Ben taught World and U.S. history in the West Chester Area School District, beginning at Henderson Senior High and then at East Senior High from its opening in 1973 until his retirement in 2003. He served as the Social Studies Department chair for all his years at East; in that position he was instrumental in arranging a visit to East by Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King III in 1987. He was a State Championship coach of the East Academic Team, amassing six league titles, and was named coach of the year in 1991. Additionally, he was a co-advisor for East students attending Model United Nations conferences at Georgetown and the University of Pennsylvania. In his early years at East, he was the girls’ softball coach. Outside of work, he was active in Boy Scout Troop 20 of Atglen, PA, his sons’ Little League teams, and the Octorara High School Band Boosters.

Following his retirement, Ben became an avid traveler, by RV across North America and via plane, train, moped, and rickshaw throughout the rest of the world. He made many friends on trips that took him to all six inhabited continents, and he was especially fond of East and Southeast Asia, where he spent months at a time enjoying iced coffees, leisurely tours, and good conversation.

Ben is survived by two sons: Christopher, married to Maryanne Olson, of Queens, NY, and Colin, married to Jin Kim, of Steelville. His daughter, Kathleen Ankers, is married to Steven Taylor and lives in Andover, MA. He has five grandchildren—Oliver and Malcolm Chappell; Penelope Olson; and Jonathan and Abigail Taylor—and a surviving sister, Deborah Chappell, married to Susan Abernethy, of Aspers, PA. He is mourned and missed fiercely by all, and remembered warmly for his sense of humor, his love of family, and the abiding gratitude he felt for all the blessings life brought him.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Sunday, March 5, 2023 at 3:00 PM at the Wilde Funeral Home, 434 Main Street, Parkesburg, PA with visitation from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Wilde Funeral Home in Parkesburg, PA. Online condolences can be posted at

Service Date: 
Mar 5 2023 - 3:00pm
Service Location: 
Wilde Funeral Home 434 Main St. Parkesburg, PA


Ben was a true Renaissance Man. He wrote and spoke with an effortlessness that all admired. We shared many travel stories, especially of Thailand. His ability to make friends throughout the world amazed me. Ben's life was full and rewarding in every way. He touched so many people, especially his students, who will never forget their one hour oratory. Ben, you will be missed but always loved.

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We are so sorry to hear of Ben’s passing.  He has been a example over the years as a loving and faithful father.  We are so thankful and blessed to know him.

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I was saddened to hear of Mr. Chappell's passing, he always seemed larger than sincere condolences to his family, especially Chris and Colin.

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It was one of my greatest privileges to have Mr Chappell as my teacher. (East Class of 79). He inspired me to be the person that I am. Thanks for sharing him with us.

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Ben did not so much have a conversation but to “hold court”. You soon realized that his gently given opinions and observations about the world were the result of a lifetime of true knowledge and wisdom.

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I am sorry for your loss. Prayers for all.
I was a student at West Cester East (Class 1975).
Corrine Smith Garrison

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