Benny Bee Sr., beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, 75, went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, Oct. 8, surrounded by his family.
Benny was born on July 30, 1944 in Glasgow, Montana. He was raised in Wolf Point, Montana by his mother Marie Battani and grandparents Rose and Ben Battani, whose influence and love molded the family man he was to become.
Benny discovered his calling at an early age, earning his first job in radio while in high school as a disc jockey. From there, his obsession with the ability to communicate, entertain, and influence through broadcasting evolved. Benny was given the opportunity to learn all facets of the business, becoming a quick study as both a DJ as well as an Advertising Sales Executive at KVCK in Wolf Point. As his skillset grew, new opportunities lured him to larger markets including Missoula, Billings, Bozeman, and Salt Lake City.
His journey in radio reached a major milestone with the purchase of his first station, KJJR, in 1978. With the help of the Small Business Administration, he secured the first loan issued in the United States to grant station ownership. The purchase of KJJR ultimately led to the addition of several other stations allowing Benny to introduce new formats reflective of Flathead Valley’s growth and thirst for variety.
Today, Bee Broadcasting includes a broad spectrum of listener tastes including cornerstones KJJR, B98, and The Bear; as well as KSAM-Sports and Outlaw Country. Benny’s favorite place to be was at home surrounded by his wife Lucy, his children, and his myriad of grandchildren that gave him such joy. He adored them and would do anything for them. He also loved his radio family, as well.
Benny was preceded in death by his previous wife, Coco. He is survived by his wife Lucy of 22 years, his children Benny Jr, Dennis, and Cassie, step-children Holly Sutton (Patrick), Kate Mercer, Joe Glickman III, and Hillary Hendrickson (Chris), aunt Barbara Schaeffer (Jim), cousins Marie Fleming (John) and Jill Keating and niece and nephew Mari and Toby Simensen. As well as 14 grandchildren; Nicholette Bee, Logan Bee, Molly Bee, Samantha Bee, Ava Bee, Lauren Bee, Kaden Bee, Isabella Weida, Ezra Weida, Sophie Sutton, Carter Sutton, Walker Sutton, Matthew Sowl and Alexandra Sowl. He will be greatly missed by his pencil-chewing golden retriever, Nash. Benny will be best remembered for his generous spirit, sense of humor, perseverance, and his commitment to championing the underdog.
A memorial service will be on Thursday, Oct. 17 at Fresh Life Church in Kalispell (116 1st Avenue East) at 2 p.m. with a reception following.
The family would like to thank the compassionate and dedicated staff at Brendan House for all their support.
Memorials may be made to Brendan House or A.L.E.R.T at https://www.krh.org/foundation/make_a_donation or (406) 751-6930.
Online memories and condolences may be shared with the family on Benny’s memorial webpage at www.austinfh.com. Austin Funeral and Cremation Services in Whitefish is caring for Benny’s family.