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William Patrick Benton, born December 13, 1961, was laid to rest Wednesday, July 31st. Patrick was born and raised in Mississippi, but the theatre was his home. He was a talented actor and director, who helped everyone he worked with to be their best. He was a member of the Actors' Equity Association.
After graduating from Pearl High School in 1979, Patrick studied at Millsaps, USM, and Indiana University, where he earned his MFA. He received the Porterfield Award from the Southeastern Theatre Conference and was awarded a grant to study best practices at small regional theatres from the Theatre Communications Group. He served as the Artistic Director of New Stage Theatre in Jackson and Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, VA. He lived in New York City, working with Horse Trade Theatre, for a short time before returning to Mississippi. He taught as an adjunct professor at Millsaps and Hinds before joining the faculty at Jackson State.
Patrick will be deeply missed by all who knew him, especially his mother, Ruth Root Benton; Casey, Patti, Carlee, and Garret Benton; Kelly, Michael, Benton and Maeghan Cranford. Patrick's extended family includes anyone who ever shared a credit on a playbill with him. He was preceded in death by his father, William May Benton, Jr.
On Tuesday, September 3rd at 4pm a memorial service will be held to celebrate Patrick's life. The service will be in the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium on the Jackson State Campus. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Patrick Benton Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Pearl Educational Foundation for Excellence, P.O. Box 5664, Pearl, Mississippi 39288-5664 OR New Stage Theatre, 1100 Carlisle Street, Jackson, MS 39202.
Published in Clarion Ledger on Aug. 30, 2013