Bedrick (Ben) Paul Popelka, 97, went to be with his Lord and Savior and loving wife of 49 years on Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Ben was born December 21,1915 in Bomarton, Texas to Anton and Rosalie Popelka. (Bomarton was a Czech community near Seymour,Texas.) During the Great Depression when jobs were scarce, Ben hopped a freight train to California because he heard that there were construction jobs available. After working the construction season, jobs ended and Ben returned to Texas by freight train. Sept 23, 1936 Ben joined the Army and was assigned to the infantry at Fort Warren, Wyoming. He was discharged one day after his 22nd birthday. Returning to Houston, Ben worked for Coca-Cola. After WWII began in Europe, Ben re-enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Lowry Field in Denver. He met the love of his life, Delores Edwards, in Denver in the spring of 1941. They were married November 12,1941. Ben served in both WWII and Korean War in intelligence. His assignments crossed the country including two tours in Alaska plus North Africa and Korea. During his service in the Air Force, Ben graduated from the first Air Corps Intelligence Course, selected for the snappiest salute in the Army during WWII (poster to right), graduated in the first class of the Strategic Air Command NCO Academy, graduated as Valedictorian for his class at the Air Force Russian Language Course at Syracuse University, and briefed President Eisenhower in Alaska on the U-2 incident/Capt Francis Powers. Ben's two highest personal decorations are: Bronze Star Medal for his leadership in the successful intelligence operations of the 5th Air Force in Korea (Ben was General Barcus' senior enlisted person in the G-2 Intelligence Section). Air Force Commendation Medal for his leadership in strategic intelligence for monitoring and evaluating Soviet activities while serving in Alaska. Ben retired as Senior Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force in 1961. Ben's second career continued his journey as a purveyor for the hotel industry. He started at the Denver Hotel Cosmopolitan. Later he was the purveyor for such prestigious hotels as Del Coronado in San Diego, Century Plaza in Santa Monica, St. Francis in San Francisco, Hyatt in Knoxville, Antlers Hotel & Four Seasons Hotel in Colorado Springs, and Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage, CA. Ben was recognized in the hotel industry for his integrity and honesty. Throughout his adventurous and full life, Ben moved 46 times in his continual pursuit to do the best for his wonderful wife, Delores, and son, Michael. Just as Ben loved and strove to care for Delores, she supported and encouraged him throughout his careers enabling him to be a success. Outside of work an d family, Ben was also dedicated to Serra Club and Knights of Columbus. Together Ben and Delores remained active with their local Catholic church and the Air Force Sergeants Association. Delores was the love of Ben's life. They were inseparable and always known as "Ben & Del." Delores was lifted to glory in 1989 where they are now reunited. If Ben were to have a motto for his life - it would be "I tried" - in the last few weeks he repeatedly reiterated....I tried to be a good boy,... I tried to be an upstanding Catholic, ...I tried to encourage faithful followers to the priesthood,... I tried to be a devoted husband,... I tried to be a dutiful father,... I tried to be a good provider to my family, ...I tried to do my duty & serve my country,... I tried to be a role model,... I tried to fully recover,...and I tried to do what was right. ...always! Ben you succeeded!