The Athens Cemetery Parks and Recreation Director, Ben Wiley, has passed away at the age of 49 after working with the city for over 25 years. He will be buried in Thatch-Mann Cemetery.
Wiley passed away at his home in Athens on Saturday, November 24, 2018. His funeral arrangements are being handled by the Limestone Chapel Funeral Home. A service will be held there on Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.
WAAY 31 talked with Athens city officials about the kinds of projects Wiley had in place, and we learned how the city plans to remember him.
“I received a phone call at about 2:00 on Saturday with the news that no mayor or anyone else wants to hear and that’s that one of our family members was found dead in his home," said Mayor Ronnie Marks.
Marks says the City of Athens lost an important part of their team when Wiley passed away over the weekend.
“Twenty-eight years with the City of Athens and we’ll have a big void," he said.
Mayor Marks says Wiley contributed a lot to the city—including the new recreation center that’s set to break ground in December, near the Sportsplex on Highway 31.
“The rec center was one of his passions," Mayor Marks said. "The new recreation facility, he worked on it for almost ten years.”
The new facility is expected to be more than triple the size of the current recreation center, and it will include two gyms, an indoor walking track, a fitness room, volleyball and tennis courts.
WAAY 31 spoke with one man who says he’s thankful for Wiley’s commitment to the city and says he’s looking forward to using the new recreation center.
“It’ll be exciting, it’ll be good for the community," Delano Yarbrough said. "Might be a little bit more motivation for the kids, to get them involved, and get them going to the gym more to practice and get themselves better.”
Mayor Marks said Wiley would’ve liked to hear that.
"We’ll get through this," Marks said. "These guys and ladies know their jobs. We met this morning and said, as Ben would say, ‘Do your jobs, you know how to do it.’”
City officials say they’re hoping the project will be completed in about 14 months, but they say it will all depend on the weather.