The Rev. Robert Lee Benson (retired) passed away peacefully in his home Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012.
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He was born in Holden, W.Va., on Feb. 18, 1931. He was the second son of Nicholas M. and Maude S. Benson.
In his younger years and in college he enjoyed working with youth programs, becoming an assistant camp director at Pocohanna Summer Camp and became a YMCA water safety instructor.
When their family moved to Wilkes-Barre he attended Wilkes College, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and as the captain of the basketball team set a school scoring record of 783 points for a season. In later years, Wilkes College presented him with a lifetime acheivement award.
Bob followed his calling to become a minister as he earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree and then a Master of Divinity degree from Drew University, Morristown, N.J. His first church was in Gouldsboro as a Methodist minister.
He then joined the U.S. Air Force full-time as a chaplain and an officer, which became a 20-year career. His first assignment was a tour in the Arctic Circle in 1959-1960. He served all over the country at different Air Force bases as well as a three-year posting in Japan from 1963 to 1966, then returning to serve at Dover Air Force Base, Dover, Del., and finally becoming a chaplain at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., with a rank of lieutenant colonel. He received two Commendation Medals for his work in the service.
Retiring from the military and returning to civilian ministry, he served many different churches in the Wyoming Conference of the United Methodist Church in Northern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier of New York state. He was appointed as the district superintendent of the Wyoming Conference and served as a director of the Binghamton Retirement Home.
Three years after he retired from the church and moved to Newport, Del., his wife of 47 years, Shirley Jones Benson, died in 1999. Bob preached for a time at Penniel Church, Newport, Del., and eventually became the chaplain at the Methodist Country Home, Greenville, Del. He also started a weekly book discussion at the Hockessin Public Library.
On April 24, 2004, he married Kathleen Scobel, originally from Chattanooga, Tenn., who is also a minister (Episcopal). The two reverends had performed services together at the Country Home. Bob and Kay also taught a class in American short story at the Academy of Life-Long Learning, Wilmington, Del. They have lived at the Country House since becoming married.
Bob is survived by his wife, Kay. He is also survived by his children and their spouses, Edward D. Benson and Laureen Eick-Benson, Barbara L. Benson Williams and Bo Williams, Roger C. Benson and Garry Haydon. There are three grandchildren, Luke R. Benson, Kyle E. Benson and Sabrina B. Williams. Bob is also survived by his brother, James Benson, Bagota, N.J., and preceded in death by his other brother, Nicholas Benson. He is also survived by his wife Kay's many extended family members.
A memorial service will be held at the Methodist Country House Chapel, Greenville, Del., at 10 a.m. Monday followed by a reception. Interment will be at Delaware Veterans Cemetery at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Bob's memory to the
For online condolences, please visit www.chandlerfuneralhome.com, 302-478-7100.
Published in Citizens' Voice on Oct. 26, 2012