Washington, D.C. – Passed away October 17th after a 5-1/2 year, epic fight with Ewing’s Sarcoma.
Ben graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005, and made his way to Washington, DC, where he lived the last 15 years.
Ben remained a deeply proud Wisconsinite his entire life, cheering on the Bucks, Brewers, Packers, and Badgers every chance he got.
In December of 2018, Ben married his wife, the utterly amazing Abby Tolkan (née James). She was, in his words, “the very best thing that ever happened to him.”
Ben lit up every room he ever walked into. During his time in Washington, Ben became a fixture of the local beer scene —from bartending at Pizzeria Paradiso to repping Brooklyn Brewery and DC Brau, he was beloved by so many in the city.
Ben had a community of dear friends that stayed close to him from every period of his life. From friends he first made in Kindergarten at Good Hope School to his friends from Nicolet High School, Camp Interlaken JCC, UW-Madison, and throughout his many years in DC – Ben was so deeply loved by so many.
Through many grueling years of cancer treatment, Ben inspired countless fellow patients, always bringing seemingly boundless energy and positivity to every treatment facility he entered.
We are particularly grateful to the incomparable Dr. Katie Thornton for championing Ben’s care and supporting him to live so much life during his cancer fight.
Ben was preceded in death by his beloved Aunt Carol LaMalfa and by his Grandparents Rosie and Lou Lehman and Bob and Lillian Tolkan.
Ben is survived by his adoring wife Abby Tolkan (née James), his sister Jessy Tolkan, and his loving parents Jim & Sherry Tolkan, as well as his Uncle Tom LaMalfa, Uncle Nolan Lehman, Aunt Marice and Uncle Al Berman, Cousins Laura, Steve and Gabriel Feffer, Cousins Lauren, Jon, Charlotte and Olivia Uretz, Cousin Geoffrey LaMalfa, Parents-in-Law Ann and Gary James, Sister- and Brother-in-law Kristin and Eric Shea, Niece Norah Shea, and many dear friends he considered family.
Please honor Ben’s fight by donating to the fundraising campaign in his name at the Sarcoma Foundation of America: