Rev. Robert L. Benson

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Oct. 24, 2012

The Rev. Robert Lee Benson (retired) passed away peacefully in his home on Oct. 24, 2012.

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 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 Life-Time Achievement Award.

Bob followed his calling to become a minister as he earned a Bachelor of Divinity and then a Master of Divinity from Drew University in Morristown, N.J. His first church was in Gouldsboro, Pa., 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 from 1959 to 1960. He served all over the country at different Air Force bases as well as a three-year posting in Japan from 1963 until 1966, then returning to serve at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del., and finally becoming a Chaplain at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., with a rank of Lt. 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. 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 in Newport, and eventually became the chaplain at the Methodist Country Home in 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 in Wilmington. They have lived at the Country House since becoming married.

He was preceded in death by his other brother, Nicholas Benson.

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 of Bagota, N.J. 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 in Greenville, Del., on Monday at 10 a.m. followed by a reception. Interment will be at the Delaware Veterans Cemetery on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Bob's memory to the . For online condolences, please visit


Published in Times Leader on Oct. 26, 2012
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