On Sunday, February 6th, while holding the hand of Josy, his sweetheart and wife for 67 years, Benjamin Federico de Hoyos passed away in Orem, Utah. He was surrounded by kids and grandkids who witnessed the passing of an extraordinary man whose accomplishments were legion.
Born December 15, 1930 in Piedras Negras, Mexico, the youngest son of 8 children of Benjamin and Francisca de Hoyos, Ben grew up in challenging circumstances. His father had died when he was only 2, after which his family often struggled to make ends meet. Opportunities for a meaningful future would be hard to come by in his circumstances, but in an encounter with Elder Harold B. Lee at a mission conference in Mexico when he was young, Elder Lee put his hand on Ben's shoulder and told him that his calling was to eventually teach the youth of Zion. So Ben left his mother and siblings in Saltillo and traveled to Colonia Juarez to attend high school.
It was in the Colonies while going to high school that Ben developed his love for ranching and the outdoors. He worked in the orchards and ranches there to earn his keep while going to school. He studied hard and excelled in sports, setting some school records in track and field that remain to this day. He earned a baseball scholarship to BYU, so after graduation he made his way to Utah to attend BYU.
Ben had to give up playing BYU baseball because he had to work to send money home to his mother. While attending the university, working numerous jobs, and working towards a Bachelors degree in Animal Husbandry, Ben met the love of his life, Josefine Zwahlen. After a year of courtship, Ben proposed to Josy by giving her a paper ring to seal the deal until he could afford a real one. They married in the Salt Lake Temple, sealed by elder Spencer W. Kimball. They had two children by the time he graduated and they moved to Michigan to go to veterinary school.
Program requirements prohibited him from completing the veterinary program, so Ben, always able to roll with the punches, acted on a recommendation to return to BYU to teach dance. This was the beginning of an illustrious career with far-reaching consequences: while completing a Masters Degree in Physical Education, he founded and directed the now-famous BYU Ballroom Dance team; he introduced fencing as a sport at BYU and took his team to the 1968 NCAA fencing championships in Los Angeles; he sponsored and coached the BYU Karate Team, and he taught myriad students in various PE courses as well as in the discipline of Recreation. In the course of time while teaching at BYU, he earned his Ph.D. in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation at the University of Utah. But despite that school affiliation, Ben remained a passionate BYU sports fan and taught his children to hold the same passion.
His influence on others wasn’t limited to academia: Ben served in various bishoprics, including a stint as the Bishop of the BYU Lamanite Ward, as a bishop of a BYU singles ward, and as the Branch President of the International Branch in the MTC. He served two missions with his wife, one serving as executive secretary in the area presidency of the Mexico South Area, and again as executive secretary in the area presidency in the Chile Area.
Having experienced his own personal challenges as a minority, Ben dedicated his life to helping innumerable minority individuals and families by providing them with work opportunities, places to live, and more. But more than anything, Ben was a family man. He and Josy raised 13 children, 12 of their own and one non-adopted son, all who benefitted from and learned his work ethic, his sense of personal integrity, and his love of the Lord. He is survived by his wife Josy and all of their children: Benjamin Federico Jr. (Wendy Seamons), Jose (Marlene Terrazas), Cynthia, Arturo (Leticia Valdez), Francisco, Ramona, Samuel (Jill Thorn), Debora, David (Kathryn Warner), Linda, Daniel (Heather Bolander), Angela (Mark Nickel), and Willis Unga (Whitney Murakami). He had 39 grand children and 49 great grand children.
After 35 years of service as a professor at BYU, a lifetime of faithful church service, and an eternally enduring influence in teaching and guiding his posterity as the grand patriarch of his ever increasing family, Ben fulfilled his call to teach the youth of Zion. He will be missed more than words can express, but we look forward to a wonderful and joyous reunion in time to come.
Memorial services will be held in the Nelson Family Mortuary in Provo, 11:00 am on March 5th, 2022. "Viewing" will be from 9:30 - 10:45 at the same location.
Life Story Info
Religion and Beliefs
- Brigham Young University
DoctorateUniversity of Utah
I am saddened of the lose of this amazing man. With heavy heart I recall how Ben interred our lives, and the impact his kindness made us who we are.
Back in 1986, when Rex (Peterson) and I were first married, expecting our first child - being lost
in seeing a bleak future. We answered a Help Wanted "Grounds keeper\maintenance needed. FREE RENT. Through divine intervention, we were granted the job. Through that kind act of Benjamin our path was paved, moving on to begin property owners ourselves. I always felt he was a "Guardian Angel" A True Blessing. This goes to show how much one act of kindness can effect a lifetime of others. And this --- WAS "Benjamin "Lico" Federico de Hoyos. A true Man of God. I will never forget.
Tina Peterson Washburn