Two towns deal with loss of father and daughter

"In my daughter's eyes Everyone is equal Darkness turns to light And the world is at peace This miracle God gave to me Gives me strength when I am weak I find reason to believe."

From the song, "In My Daughter's Eyes" by Martina McBride

By Ronald MacArthur

People in Seaford and Georgetown are feeling the pain of the loss of Ben VanSciver, 42, and his daughter, Bethany, 14, who died on July 26 in an accident as they drove near their home in Georgetown. The "In Memory" marquee signs in both communities reflect the mood of those who were touched by the father and daughter who were active in sports. Black ribbon hangs from the goal posts in his memory at the Field of Dreams in the Seaford Sports Complex - where Ben spent most of his weekends in the fall running the city's flag football programs as program director. "The gifts that they have given to each of us is what needs to be focused on," said Peggy Geisler, a friend of the family, who is also a counselor. "Those gifts will live forever. With Ben it was always about the kids and what he could do for them and with Bethany it was about the joy she could bring to others." Over the past few days, there has been a constant stream of family and friends stopping by the VanSciver house in Georgetown paying their respects. "You don't realize how many lives they've touched," said Barbara VanSciver, Ben's mother. Ben worked for the City of Seaford in the Department of Parks and Recreation for the past six years; prior to that he worked for Seaford Machine Works for 14 years. Bethany was preparing to enter Sussex Central High School as a freshman. He leaves behind his wife of 18 years, Laurie Groton VanSciver, who works at Heritage Jewelers in Seaford, and son Malcolm, 16, who works part time at Pizza King and attends Sussex Central High School. Ben, who was in charge of most of the youth team activities in the parks and recreation department, was active on the city's Nanticoke Riverfest Committee. This past year, he was named chairman of the children's activities and was already working on next year's event, according to Ron Breeding, co-chairman of the event. "Ben realized that parks and rec needed to be a vital part of the Riverfest event and he was the ideal person to be in charge of the children's events, and he didn't mind giving of his time," Breeding said. "My lasting vision of Ben will always be him driving the duck train during the Riverfest this past year. He had been on the train for five hours and I was trying to get him off, but he kept on as long as there was one more child waiting in line. I think that says it all." Breeding, who was also his supervisor, said that Ben worked hard to do things right. "He wanted to please everyone and he loved his job. He was a family man who cared for kids and when you add in the fact that he was able to work with kids in his job, he felt he was blessed," Breeding said. Ben became involved with the Georgetown Little League when the couple moved to Georgetown from Laurel 13 years ago. Since then, the family has spent most of their spring and summer immersed in everything Little League. Ben was a coach and served on the board of directors and was also an umpire; and was head umpire for girls' softball. He had recently helped umpire during a District III tournament. He went to the Little League park just about every day either to coach or umpire. He also was involved on the committee that helped to bring the softball Eastern Regionals to Millsboro and was in charge of housing. This year, for the first time, he helped to coach the ASA Delaware Twisters U-14 softball team. Bethany was a member of the team. The team was comprised of players from all over Sussex County and played in tournaments on the weekends. The family is quick to point out that one of the highlight's of Ben's life involved Little League and winning the Jr. League (13-14 year olds) District III championship in 2003. It had extra special meaning because his son Malcolm was on the Georgetown team.

"After we won the championship game, he picked me up off the ground," his son said. "I had never seen him so happy." The four finalists' names were drawn from a rubber duck pond on July 20. "And my name was the first one drawn," Taylor said. "After that game, he just put his head on my shoulder and cried. It meant so much to him," Laurie said. "It was a big highlight in his life. He made it to that special place where he wanted to be. It was one of the greatest things that ever happened to him." Ben was a mentor in the Seaford School District Help One Student to Succeed (HOSTS) program and a Sunday School teacher for teens at Wesley U.M. Church in Georgetown. "Anything that had to do with kids, Ben wanted to be involved - that's just the way he was," said Cathy VanSciver, his sister-in-law. Laurie said that Ben called his job with the City of Seaford his "dream job." Even though the job required long hours and weekend work, she said that the family tried to plan their time together. "Almost everything we did, we did as a family," she said. "If Ben was working in the concession stand during a parks and rec football game, we were all working in the concession stand. "The most fun we have was always when we were together as a family," she added. "And one of our most favorite things to do was to go eat crabs at Lazy Susans." She added that the restaurant has a photo of the family on the wall. The restaurant, located on Rt. 1 near Rehoboth Beach, is planning a benefit for the family in the near future. "Ben would do anything for anybody," said Dolores Slatcher, Seaford's city manager. "He will be missed very much. He always took on much more than he could handle. If there was anything going on in the city, he wanted to be part of it. "Ben was really a rich man - because he had such great friends and he gave so much and then got so much back in return," she added. She said that city employees are dealing with his loss. "It's really disbelief. We can't believe he's not here," she said. Counseling has been provided to city employees and especially to the staff who worked directly with Ben in the parks and recreation department. "We are really supporting each other, staying close and watching out for one another," she said. The city staff attended the vigil on Sunday night at the Georgetown Little League Parks and also attended the memorial service on Monday night. "The vigil was a moving ceremony and I think it was really important for Bethany's friends to get together like that," Slatcher said. On the other side of the county, counseling has also been made available to members of the Georgetown Volunteer Fire Company, according to Bob Ricker, a spokesman for the company. Members of the company were first to arrive at the

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