He operates a successful deer processing business; he is a garbage man; he teaches concealed firearms classes; he is a farmer who sells his produce; he is an award-winning author; he is pastor of his church. And he does all this while being blind. Yes, you read it right; Ben Dupree is functionally blind.
Dupree is a 42-year-old graduate of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches with a master’s degree in education.
“After college I began work as a teacher, basketball coach and assistant principal. Then I began having these strange problems with my eyes. I had 20-20 vision but I began having difficulty keeping my eyelids open and I sought medical treatment. I was finally diagnosed with a rare condition, Blephrospasm, a condition that forced my eyelids to close,” Dupree explained. “I go to Shreveport quarterly to have injections around my eyes so they can stay open.”
After doing something he was trained for in the education system that he absolutely loved, he was forced to have to give it all up after 10 years because of the diagnosis; he was declared functionally blind.
Kristin, Ben’s wife and mother of their two sons, is a registered nurse and the couple was faced with a “what’s next?” dilemma.
“Kristin encouraged me to do something I had always wanted to do, and that’s write a book. So I did and I eventually won an Excellence in Craft award from the Louisiana Outdoor Writer’s Association.
“I was a commercial fisherman for awhile, I cut and sold firewood and then I got into deer processing. The first year I processed a few deer for friends, an activity that took place in my wife’s kitchen but she thought it best that I find another place to cut up deer and make sausage.
“My dad helped me construct a building in our back yard and from something that started simply five years ago, K&B Processing is in a fully operational building with concrete floor, drains and a custom trolley system and I expect to process 400 to 500 this season,” said Dupree.
Serious health problems forced Kristin to give up her job as a nursing instructor and today, she’s at home keeping records and handling bookkeeping for the family businesses. Sons Reagan, 15, and Michael 12, are home-schooled and assist Dupree in his deer processing business. They take turns on Wednesdays helping their dad on the weekly garbage run, which was the next venture he explored.
The idea of developing a garbage collecting system for folks in the community took shape and today, Dupree has 92 customers throughout north Natchitoches Parish, furnishing cans and drum liners with each Wednesday designated as garbage collection day, garbage taken to the land fill in Natchitoches.
“I’m the only garbage man I know who has a master’s degree,” he quipped.
Rev. Jason Womack, pastor of Goldonna Baptist Church, was called to pastor a church in another community recently and before he left, he advised Dupree, who is a licensed minister, to expect to be asked to be interim pastor.
“The church did ask me to consider the interim position which Kristin and I prayed about and I felt led to do. Then the church voted, in a unanimous vote, to call me as pastor. I explained that with all the businesses that I operate, they would have to consider me a bi-vocational pastor and they agreed,” he said.
He might have had to give up his profession of being an educator because of his functional blindness but being a renaissance man, he exactly fits the definition – “a person with many talents or areas of knowledge.”
Contact Glynn at email@example.com