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Leon High School
Tallahassee, Florida

Class of 1963
The Story of Ben A. Worthington
(Provided by Brenda Abstein  July 26, 2018)

Ben A. Worthington was created in the fall of 1962 by Malcolm Craig.  Others included in promoting Ben were Joe Guttman, Jerome Novey, Andy Moorer, Joe White and John Ter Louw.

I received an email from Jay Ter Louw (younger brother of our classmate John Gary Ter Louw who died July 20, 2007).  He wanted to share the story of Ben A. Worthington with 1963 Classmates as a tribute to his brother.

I then asked Malcolm Craig if he would please provide the history of Ben A. Worthington.
Below first is Jay’s email and then Malcolm’s email.

I will post this to Facebook Leon ‘63 and to the Leon 1963 webpage http://www.leon1963.com/. If you would like, please feel free to add any Ben A. Worthington stories there.

Jay’s email:

John graduated from Leon in 1963, and I started 10th grade there in 1966.  John left me a bit of a legacy at Leon.  It was there he learned to rebel.  An example: in senior year, he and three friends took turns sneaking into the room where they were taking pictures for the yearbook—French club, chorus, student council and others.  They wore a trench coat, like Spy vs. Spy from Mad Magazine.  Just before the photographer pushed the button, they would turn up the collar and look shifty, then quickly put it back in place.  When the sign-up sheet was passed so the annual staff could associate names and faces to publish in the yearbook, they would write “Ben Worthington,” a name they made up.

They weren’t caught until the yearbook staff was reviewing the pictures for publication.  The staff was able to retouch the club photos to erase the guy in the trench coat.  But there is a candid photo taken outside the school that made it into the yearbook, a photo of John and his friends recorded unawares with the caption, Could this be the elusive Ben Worthington?

Jay Ter Louw
Class of 1969

Malcolm’s email:

My first meeting with John Ter Louw was at a gathering organized by the Pierian Honor Society to greet new students to Leon High School. During that event, we had an activity involving birthdays, in which we discovered that Lauren Reagan, John, and I were all born on the same day in 1945. As an aside, I also noticed several classmates whose name badges contained “Lucy Grut” and other female names with the surname Grut. This was a follow up to the numbered Alva Grut signatures I had placed on various desks as a Sophomore.  (Of course, the source of this graffiti was unknown to our female classmates.) John and I did several things together as Seniors, such as riding back to LHS from Analytic Geometry at F.S.U.  Our most notable (though not so exciting) joint effort was to register for the draft on our 18th birthday(s).

The origin of Ben A. Worthington came a little while after the gathering I discussed above. The first thing I did was to have a letter to the editor under Ben’s name printed in the Democrat. The nonexistent address I used for the letter was a location on the west side of Trescott Drive, which had not yet been developed in the fall of 1962. Mrs. James entrusted me with compiling the honor roll, on which I placed Ben’s name. My honor-roll compilation days ended after I got carried away and added Harmon Muspratt – one step too far. By that time, many friends had caught on and helped put Ben’s name in many places, such as on the daily lists of absentees. Besides John, I can remember Joe Guttman, Jerome Novey, Andy Moorer, and Joe White assisting in the effort – and I am sure there were others. During the next school year, when Andy and I were Freshmen at M.I.T. and Harvard and respectively, he managed to make Ben’s name appear in Cambridge more than once.

Some of you may remember the all-purpose adjective “bené,” which we used very liberally during our Senior year at Leon. In the use of Ben’s false name, I unintentionally created a pun. This is because “bené” and “Ben A.” are pronounced in exactly the same way. To add to that coincidence, “bené,” derived from the Latin word meaning “well,” fits right into the surname Worthington.

If my taste for subterfuge brought a bit more fun into our Senior year, that pleases me. It should be noted that Ben has attended every class of ’63 reunion for more than 50 years. I know we could feel his presence at the recent 55th.