Oxford mourns death of retired MUPD Captain Ben Spilman


Capt. Ben Spilman of the Miami University Police Department died April 10. Photo provided by Miami University

By Kenn Jones

Ben Spilman, retired captain with the Miami University Police Department, died April 10, after a two-year battle with cancer. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family. 

Spilman, 49, had a 26-year career at Miami, in which he moved up from being a student employee to a police officer and rose through the ranks to finally retire as Captain of Administrative Services in 2021. He owned and operated a tech-consulting service known as Spilman Solutions, which he opened in 2014 while still working at the university. 

The Miami University Police Department posted notice of Spilman’s death on its Facebook page, which was flooded with condolences, prayers and fond memories from both colleagues at Miami and former students. 

Many remarked at how kind they remember Spilman being, with one comment from Miami University Geography professor and City Council Member David Prytherch reading: “I was honored to work with Ben over many years to make Miami more sustainable. He was smart, creative, and an incredible collaborator. He left a wonderful and lasting mark on our institution. Such terribly sad news for his family and all who were graced to know him.”

Spilman also served the community as a volunteer with Boy Scouts of America for eight years. He was issued an Unsung Hero award by Cancer Family Care Inc., nominated by Christine Leak. Leak was not only a certified nurse practitioner at Kettering Health Hamilton Cancer Center, where Spilman was being treated, but she was also a close friend of his. Their sons had participated in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts together. The award was made in recognition of Spilman’s continued service as a police officer, even during his cancer treatments. 

Spilman was remembered as a friendly, kind, and very entertaining individual. Prytherch shared a story about an event where Spilman, who had assisted in the creation of the Sustainability Committee at Miami, dressed as the lion from “The Wizard of Oz” to draw attention to the event and make it fun. 

“I was honored to have Ben as a colleague and think of him as a work friend. Ben was one the friendliest people you’d ever meet,” said Prytherch. 

Carole Johnson, Miami’s director of communications and marketing, was another friend who shared fond memories of Spilman. She said he was  “one of those employees who illustrate and demonstrate what we are about.” 

Johnson spoke of Spilman’s involvement in community outreach, his work with updating Miami’s parking system and his kindness and caring. “The way he approached everything was always calming and very logical.. that very deep sense of ‘I want to be there, and I want to help’ was what he was all about.”

A tribute wall was dedicated to Spilman on his obituary page by Avance Funeral Home, in which many stories of his life were posted by friends, family, and colleagues. His wife, Mary, posted the heartfelt lyrics to Three Days Grace’s song “Lifetime.” On the page, those who knew Spilman can share memories or request to plant a tree in his honor. 

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Chris Spilman; a daughter, Nicole Stapleton; step-son Matt Fox; sister Rebecca Fordham of Delray Beach, Florida; and his parents Patricia and Daniel Spilman of Beaufort, South Carolina.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date for friends and family. The family requests donations to the Fort Hamilton Hospital Foundation in lieu of flowers.