Modern Gentleman of the Year

Ben Van Kat exemplifies what it is to be a Modern Gentleman. Let’s look at the three basic categories: career, family, and overall manliness.

First, Ben continues to work in a noble industry in turmoil, journalism. Journalism has been a stodgy art, with many resisting change. However, Ben has been toiling on the forefront trying to bring it into the ‘Modern’ era with his work at Omaha.com. Ben has also been on the cutting edge of journalism’s long-hated, but now necessary partner, social media. Through his blog and Twitter feed he brings sage advice on topics as diverse as ’90s television, sports and home improvement projects. This shows not only a want to understand his worthy adversary but his willingness to embrace it for good. This is key for any Modern Gentleman, taking a traditional craft or calling and bringing it into the 21st century.

Second, family. It is easy to see why Ben has grown to be a Modern Gentleman. He comes from a great family. His mother, father, brother and their terrific Basset Hound set a great foundation. Ben has continued to raise the bar in his own life by starting a new family. His wife Stephanie is lovely and has  enriched him as a person. Together they host a Tuesday night social gathering at a new adult establishment every week. This support of local businesses and willingness to reach out to all of his friends on a weekly basis shows that the Van Kats remain social — and socially conscious. This adoption of a traditional family model, while keeping a cosmopolitan and active lifestyle, makes him a true Modern Gentleman.

Third is overall manliness. A Modern Gentleman must remain by definition, a man. Ben does this by continually taking on home improvement projects — always a manly endeavor. This alone would not make him a Modern Gentleman. Ben modernizes his endeavors by posting all details on social media. In true journalistic form, he even provides his own pictures and video. Other Gentlemanly activities include sports. Ben plays softball, golf and tennis, and he is a runner. This versatility in the athletic arena shows a great ability to adapt and be multitalented. Ben is also a connoisseur of alcohol, primarily a beer drinker (Manly), he has also been known to tackle many wines (Gentlemanly).

All of the previous would be for nothing if it wasn’t for Ben’s kind heart and glowing personality. He genuinely cares for all of those in his life. Even if an individual has not spoken with Ben in years, the next time he picks up conversation, it is like there was no gap at all. He never holds personal grudges or petty grievances. Things a Modern Gentleman would not do. When you combine all of these terrific traits and accomplishments with Ben’s stellar personality, you get the definition of a Modern Gentleman.

— Edwin Conrad Schafer III

I believe Edwin “Ned” Schafer deserves honorable mention for this inaugural award. He bucked the laws of biology and nominated another male, which is genteel, for a blog’s essay contest, which exhibits modernity.

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