Founding father of Milton Keynes dies 11 days short of his 101st birthday

He lived independently and socialised regularly

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 12:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 3:00 pm

One of the founding fathers of Milton Keynes has died at the grand old age of 100.

Ben Affleck came to MK in 1970 to be Director of Housing for the newly-formed Milton Keynes Development Corporation.

His job was to plan and supervise the building of tens of thousands of new homes to house the new communities on individual estates.

Ben Afflick MBE

Mr Affleck died just 11 days short of his 101st birthday. Despite his grand age, and having severe eyesight difficulties and reduced mobility, he led an active life and lived independently in his own home to the end.

He continued to join his Rotary meetings and even attended a Rotary lunch less than two weeks before he died.

He also loved socialising and on the very day the Covid eating-out restrictions were lifted this summer he was at his table in his favourite restaurant. He the proceeded to to take friends there several times a week, say his family.

Mr Affleck had retired in 1980 but promptly took up an appointment to set up the National Mobility Scheme. A few years later he was honored with an MBE for his services to the community.

Mr Afflick planned the housing estates in MK

Throughout his life, he was also involved in voluntary work and in MK he helped out at The Stables, starting out as a car park attendant and ending up chairman of the committee.

Mr Affleck, who lived on Bancroft, was one of the founding members of MK Rotary Club, taking his turn as president of the club. He was also a founder member of MK Macular Society.

Last year, when he reached 100, he was honoured by his Rotary club by being awarded the highest level of the Paul Harris Fellowship Award.

His daughter-in-law Sandy said: "With Rotary he was always involved in their various fund raising activities and practical things such as their Lend-a Hand-day, doing jobs such as gardening and cleaning windows for the disabled and elderly. He also used to help out regularly at the hospital wheeling patients to the chapel services on Sundays, and later helping to run the hospital radio."

Ben Afflick in his younger days

Born in Manchester and brought up in Rotherham, Mr Afflick worked in communications for the RAF during the war. Afterwards he began his working career in housing, starting off as a rent collector.

Sandy said: "His family went through very hard times, even suffering starvation at one point. In contrast to most families his went down in the world rather than up. He was fortunate to be able to go to Grammar School where he received a good education, but left after his exams to obtain work to repay his family.

"He went to work for the local authority in the finance department as a rent collector. During the war he was initially in the Home Guard but then both his parents died. So in 1940, aged just 19, he buried both his parents, arranged for his young sisters to go to relatives, and went to war.

"He joined the RAF as a radio and radar operator as an eyesight problem prevented him from flying. He was then stationed up in the Shetlands."

During the war Mr Affleck he married his first wife, Betty, and when the war ended he started his career in housing - choosing this because he wanted to help people, said Sandy.

He was the first male to be employed by the Society of Women's Housing Management and later became a Member of the Institute of Housing Managers.

"He was given all the worst jobs, but was grateful in the end as he gained much valuable experience," said Sandy.

Mr Affleck's first wife and mother of his two children died in 1973, just three years after he had taken up the position of Director of Housing for MKDC.

Sadly in 2019, after 44 years of marriage his second wife, Gertrud, died after Mr Affleck had cared for her for many years. By then, his two children and his son-in-law had also sadly died. .

He was always a modest and humble man, and when asked about his achievements in an interview he said: ''I've not really achieved anything. This is no exceptional life of mine.

"It's just an ordinary life lived to the best of my ability.''