Benjamin LeMont Zirbel died on Aug. 21, 2018 as a result of injuries sustained while performing his duty as Deputy for the Clay County Sheriff’s Department in Middleburg, Florida. Formal services were held in Florida and a celebration of his life will be held in Iowa on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. at the Charles City Elks Lodge. This will be a casual dress event with time to share memories and stories about Ben.
Eldest son of Jim and Cindy Zirbel, Ben was born Sept. 16, 1977 in Mason City, Iowa. Ben graduated from Charles City High School in 1996 and NIACC in 1998. He was united in marriage to his high school sweetheart, Anna (McDonald) Zirbel, on July 21, 2001 in Roseville. Shortly after, they moved to Florida and settled in Clay County in 2005. Ben graduated from the St. Johns River State College Criminal Justice Academy and served the community as a law enforcement officer for twelve years, following family tradition of graduating with a degree in auto mechanics before pursuing law enforcement.
Ben’s passions were studying and collecting pieces of history, traveling with his family, performing his duties as an honor guard member, and building positive community relationships. From early in his high school drama days, Ben also loved problem solving mechanical and technical projects on the stage, in his home, and in his garage.
He is survived by his loving wife, Anna, son Ethan, sisters Shelby (Joel) of Belmond, IA and Katie of Phoenix, AZ, brother Nick (Lacey), father Jim (Suzi), grandfather Ed Benedict, all of Charles City, and numerous extended family. He was preceded in death by his mother, Cindy, grandparents Jean Benedict, Lyle, Ann, and Betty Zirbel.
Ben’s final act of generosity was to pass on the gift of life through organ donation. Because of Ben and his wife, 7 people will now continue to live or have an improved quality of life. Ben’s heart beats in another, and his family encourages organ donation whenever possible.
A memorial scholarship has been set up in Ben’s name with the St. Johns River State College Criminal Justice Academy. Memorial contributions may be made to the St. Johns River State College Foundation: www.sjrstate.edu/foundation, or by mail to SJR State Foundation, 5001 St. Johns Ave, Palatka, FL 32177. Contributions will support individuals pursuing careers in law enforcement.