was the year after the stock market collapse and the bank failed. Ben lost all his money. Faced with the need to fend for himself he took whatever job was available. At first this was mowing lawns and raking leaves on the Yale campus, but in time Cornelius Osgood developed a liking for Ben and put him to work cataloging anthropology collections in the Yale Peabody Museum. Osgood’s confidence in Ben started him on his path in anthropology, a path that led to an extraordinary 70-year career.

On June 24, 1939, Ben married Mary Mikami. Mary was herself an extraordinary person. She came from an aristocratic family in Japan, where her father was an accomplished naval officer. Her family moved to the United States in the early 1900s, and she was born in San Francisco in 1912. After moving to Alaska, she was involved in anthropology projects and studied at the University of Alaska, where she met Froelich Rainey, who convinced her to pursue a Ph.D. at Yale. There she met and married Ben. They had two sons, David and Peter. David became an urban landscape architect in Philadelphia, following in the family tradition. Peter was the chief of staff to Tom Daschle and currently is the chief of staff for Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate. Mary Mikami was Ben’s lifelong companion, and at times collaborator, until her death at the age of 87 on August 7, 1999. Her passing was memorialized in the U.S. Senate (Congressional Record, 1999).


Working 20 hours a week and studying full time through the lean years of the Great Depression, Ben completed his B.S. in plant science at Yale’s Sheffield Scientific School in 1934. This was a very prestigious accomplishment. However, by his junior year Ben had decided that he did not want to be a forester. Plant science, in his opinion, was a “mature

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