Reassuring Others Was Lawyer's Specialty
Benjamin Charles Langel could be a powerhouse when he worked cases for his clients, but mostly, his friends and family say, he offered people a reassuring presence.
"I don't know anybody I liked more," said retired Bank IV executive Jordan Haines.
"He was one of my heroes. I can't speak too kindly or highly of Ben."
Mr. Langel, a retired Foulston Siefkin partner and lawyer, died Friday from a heart attack. He was 61 years old.
Funeral service will be 10 a.m. today at Reformation Lutheran Church.
Mr. Langel was born July 17, 1940, in Salina. He graduated from Salina High School in 1958, received his bachelor's degree in business from the University of Kansas in 1962 and his law degree from KU in 1964.
He and his wife, Sondra, moved to Wichita in 1964 where he began working for Foulston Siefkin.
Through the years, some of his clients included nationally known industries: Bank IV, which is now Bank of America; Pizza Hut; The Coleman Company; and Rent-A-Center.
"He had this marvelous sense of humor that was caustic," said Haines, who was president and chairman of Bank IV and Fourth Financial from 1968-91 and became ac lose [sic] friend of Mr. Langel and his family.
"He always had a needle and a jab, which I thoroughly enjoyed."
But Mr. Langel was also a man who cared deeply about his community and the people around him.
He was a member of Wichita's Downtown Rotary Club and was active in one of the club's most recent projects: raising money to buy solar ovens for the people of Haiti.
He served two terms on the executive committee for the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce and was the chamber's vice president during the late 1990s.
"He was a gentle man," said his wife, Sondra. "Integrity was very important to him. His search for truth was something he took seriously and spent a great deal of time on."
When he retired two years ago, Mr. Langel -- a devout Christian -- began asking himself a question: "What would an intelligent person believe?"
He read more than 100 books on various religions and ended up co-teaching a four-week course this March at Reformation Lutheran Church.
"Ben had done a great deal of research on Biblical scholarship and was just a wealth of information," said Sally Fahrenthold, interim pastor at Reformation Lutheran Church, who co-chaired the class with Mr. Langel.
Besides his wife, Mr. Langel is survived by his son, Everett C. Langel of Menlo Park, Calif.; a daughter, Julia Langel of Wichita; father, Everett A. Langel, and sister, Elizabeth Munns, both of Topeka.
Wichita Eagle, June 11, 2002, page 3B