Dr. Donald A. Benz, PhD, residing in Campbellsville, Ky., passed away Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. Memorial service was Saturday, Sept. 7, at Parrott & Ramsey Funeral Home, 418 Lebanon Ave., in Campbellsville.
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Dr. Benz (Don) was a college professor who dedicated his life to bettering his community through his work, devotion to family, friends and church.
He was born in March 1931 in Park Falls, Wis., to Carl and Marcella Altman Benz. Don grew up in nearby Butternut, eventually attending Park Falls High School as a star athlete and excellent student, afterward graduating from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point with a bachelor's degree in elementary education.
Shortly after graduation, Don was drafted out of his first teaching position to serve two years in the United States Army on the edge of the newly created Korean demilitarized zone.
Following his honorable discharge, Don obtained a master's in education from Peabody College, now part of Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tenn., where he also completed his PhD. At Vanderbilt, Don met a fellow student and soon-to-be love of his life, Mary Lynn Phillips of Campbellsville. They were married in Phoenix in 1956.
Upon completion of their graduate studies in Nashville, the two began an extended American road trip vis-ˆ-vis teaching positions in New Orleans, Colorado, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. In 1966, Don accepted a professorship at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, where he would specialize in training future reading specialists and teachers. Don viewed education as not only a profession, but a personal calling and critical ingredient to the health of his community and society writ large. He served a term as president of the Wisconsin State Reading Association and later as the organization's state coordinator while continuing to teach at UWSP until his retirement in 1993.
Some years after retiring, Don and Mary Lynn relocated to Westfield, Ind., to play a more active role in the lives of their granddaughters, whom he loved deeply. Don and Mary Lynn moved again last year to her ancestral home of Kentucky to be close to the family and natural surroundings they shared deep affection for.
Throughout, Don was a devotee of lifelong learning, an avid golfer, outdoorsman, patron of the arts, comprehensive reader of Asian and Civil War histories and remained ever passionate about American politics.
Don is survived by his wife Mary Lynn; their children, Steven, David and Tom; and grandchildren, Claudia and Olivia.
Published in Central Kentucky News-Journal on Sept. 8, 2013