CARBONDALE -- Vincent William Rey Benziger died Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, in Carbondale at age 63.
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Vincent was the youngest of three children of James George and Patricia Rey Benziger. He graduated from Carbondale Community High School in 1968 and from University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1972.
His mental growth was fast. His physical growth was slow. When he graduated from high school, he was still short and small and called "Vinnie." This obituary might be entitled "Vinnie, we hardly knew ye." As an adult, he grew into the tallest and best looking of the Benzigers, 6 feet, 3 inches with wavy blond hair.
His social growth was also slow. He was introverted and his speech was difficult to understand. This was in part caused by the fact that he was largely deaf, a fact that was not discovered until well into his adulthood.
As kids, Vincent's father took all the children hiking in Giant City and Little Grand Canyon often and most especially after Thanksgiving and Christmas meals with the always abundant group of family friends. When Dr. Katherine Benziger returned to Carbondale 10 years ago to help their mother, Vincent went for hikes with his sister in those two areas several times.
As an adult, he got many degrees, including a Master's in Chinese from University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D., in international economics from Yale. He lived and taught economics in Beijing for one to two years to their economics students, who loved him very much and whom he taught clogging, a form of folk dance he also loved and excelled in.
He travelled all over the world including travelling the Trans-Siberian Express. He lived in Taiwan and appeared in soap operas there as the tall, gangly American. He also studied in mainland China.
In the 2000s, he had a job as an adjunct professor in economics at Shawnee Junior College, where he interacted with students with great patience and support. At that time he also published two articles regarding the importance of geography to a country's economic well-being, articles that were internationally recognized as being ahead of their time. From 2004 to 2009, he lived with his brother, Brad Benziger, in Carbondale.
Vincent went to University of Wisconsin to follow in the footsteps of his older sister, Dr. Katherine Benziger, of Carbondale. Vincent treasured the friendship and support of his older sister, who also taught him transcendental meditation, which he valued greatly.
He was a prince, a beautiful soul. If there is a heaven, he is in it.
Published in The Southern Illinoisan on Dec. 15, 2013