Bernard “Ben” G. Rivers

May 18, 1921 – Feb. 2, 2021


Bernard “Ben” G. Rivers, age 99, of Manhattan, Kansas, passed away at his home in his sleep Feb. 2, 2021. He was born May 18, 1921, on a farm in rural Sherman County, near Loup City. He was the son of Ralph D. and Charlotte (Schleicher) Rivers.

He married Elvera Olson on July 17, 1948. They had two children, Douglas (Christine) Rivers of Shoal Creek, Alabama, and Carole (Eric) Johnson of Concordia, Kansas. After Elvera’s passing in 1980, he married Minnie “Mickey” Barber in Phoenix, Arizona, on April 13, 1983. They lived in Phoenix and Concordia prior to moving to Manhattan in 1989.  

He is survived by his wife Mickey; his two children, Doug and Carole; and two grandchildren, Brianna and Andrew Johnson of Manhattan and Lawrence, Kansas, respectively. He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Ann (Rivers) Brasch; and his first wife, Elvera.  

Ben attended a one-room school until his family left the farm and moved to Seward, where he graduated from Seward High in 1938. Upon graduation, he began working for J.C. Penney, Co. as a part-time salesman in Seward. He later worked in Norfolk and Beatrice, and managed stores in Norton, Kansas, (1955-62) and Concordia (1962-1981).

He was probably most proud of his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He enlisted and was trained in communications at the University of Chicago and Treasure Island, California, prior to going to sea. He was aboard three different liberty ships and went around the world carrying supplies and munitions to ground troops in the European and Pacific theaters. He sailed every major ocean except the Arctic with ports of call on every continent except Antarctica. 

In retirement, he and Mickey traveled by land and sea and he enjoyed going to football games and cheering on the Wildcats.  

A funeral service was Feb. 5 at the Grace Baptist Church in Manhattan, with burial at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Concordia with military honors. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Grace Baptist Church or to the VA Hospital in Topeka. Condolences may be left for the family at


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