ELWOOD — David Savage struggled to talk about the death of the Rev. Benjamin Capshaw, better known by his congregation, family and friends as Pastor Ben.
“I just want you to know how much of a light he was,” said Savage. “He just kept me going. I just want you to know how tremendous he was.”
Capshaw, 41, of Elwood died Thursday morning in a car accident. He was married with two sons and the pastor of Elwood Central Wesleyan Church.
He was driving a Honda SUV north on Indiana 37 when witnesses said he abruptly crossed the centerline south of Indiana 128 and collided with a semitractor trailer driven by Frank Powers, 43, of Cicero, according to Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger.
The collision caused both the SUV and semi to erupt in fire; Capshaw died at the scene, Mellinger said.
He said Powers and a passenger in the semi were treated at Ascension St. Vincent Mercy hospital in Elwood. The crash remains under investigation.
Savage said he has known Capshaw for almost 10 years, but the two men became exceptionally close in June after the sudden and unexpected death of Savage’s 10-year-old son, Levi.
“He was there for us.”
He said Capshaw was outgoing but always took time to listen to the people around him.
“He would light up the room and make people feel great,” said Savage.”He would try to be a humble servant for the Lord.”
Last week Savage and Capshaw talked about getting together for dinner, but they never firmed up their plans. Life kind of got in the way, Savage explained.
He was silent for several seconds, and then his voice was full of emotion as he talked about the support and kindness Capshaw showed him after his son’s death.
“I wasn’t quite a member of his congregation, but had I chosen a church to get back into, it would have been his,” said Savage. “That’s how much he touched myself, my wife and our family.”
Capshaw also was chaplain for the city of Elwood. Mayor Todd Jones announced Pastor Ben’s death on the city’s Facebook page.
“It is with tremendous sadness and heartache that I write this today,” said Jones. “Our city has once again been faced with the unimaginable. The tragic loss of a man who has always put the needs — especially the spiritual needs — of others in front of his own.”
Jones said Capshaw was always there when called upon and committed to the community.
“The City of Elwood has lost an extraordinary man, a mentor, pastor, servant leader, cheerleader and friend,”
Everett Dickey said he played in a softball league with Capshaw on Saturday.
“I’m still kind of at a loss and in a fog for an hour since I got the news.”
He said he attended Capshaw’s church a couple of times while searching for a new church home, and Capshaw always had a great message to share.
“He was really funny and always joking and smiling,” said Dickey. “He was the light of the room — every room he walked in. He touched everyone’s heart.”
Julie Wrin said she was Capshaw’s administrative assistant at the church.
“He didn’t know a stranger,” she said with a laugh before breaking down into tears. “He was a great dad and fun to work with.”
Wrin admired the love Capshaw showed his wife and said he was always great with children.
“He kind of thought he was still a kid,” she said through her tears. “He would be out playing ball with his boys and always involved with our youth group. ... Every kid knew him, it seemed like.”
She said it was fitting people referred to his light while remembering him.
“Our message this last month was being the light,” said Wrin. “Being God’s light, and that was something Ben truly was. He showed God’s love in his light.”
Wrin said Capshaw married the daughter of the church’s previous pastor and moved to Elwood from Michigan, where he was a youth pastor.
“He will be sadly missed,” she said. “Not only as our pastor, because he was a great pastor, but just in our community. He was always there.”