JACKSON, Wyo. - Elizabeth "Liza" Gray Benson, 28, resident of Jackson, Wyo., passed away suddenly in a skiing accident caused by an avalanche on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013. Liza was born on June 28, 1984, in Troy, to proud parents Elizabeth Bravo Benson and Peter Allen Benson and older sister Adrienne. She was the granddaughter of Robert and Lucia Hobart Bravo and Libby Stover Benson of Troy; great-granddaughter of Rachel and William Hobart, Adelaide Allen and I. Kell Stover of Troy. The family of four soon moved to Westfield, NJ., where younger brother Peter Coleman Benson made it a family of five. The Bensons moved to Columbus in 1990. As a little girl, Liza was a perpetual motion machine, busily keeping up with her older sister and friends. She developed a strong work ethic as an academic and started as a swimming pool attendant and guard at age 14 in Columbus. She played competitively through grade school. In high school, goalkeeping for the Upper Arlington Golden Bears women's soccer team, Liza held the Ohio state record for the most saves in goal for many years. Seeking a better chance at college placement, Liza attended boarding school at Lawrence Academy in Groton, MA. On the soccer field there she was selected Massachusetts All State Team for 2001,'02 and '03 and graduated cum laude and an award in Latin in 2003.
Her hard work and dedication paid off when Liza attended her dream-school, Colby College in Waterville, ME. Liza continued to be a powerhouse on the soccer field as a nationally-ranked goalie for the Colby College Mules. She was selected 'Devastator of the Week', in '05 and '06, by the college athletic department, as well as all-state for four years. Between matches and working as an assistant athletic trainer, Liza pursued rigorous studies in biology, attaining dean's list, and graduating with honors in June 2007. During the summers, she acted as soccer coach for kids, worked at Marine Environmental Research in Blue Hill ME., and later for the Nature Conservancy in Martha's Vineyard, MA, even traveling to Mongolia for biology research.
Upon graduation, Liza's adventures began. She explored Europe, the Mediterranean, and Morocco on a 36-foot wooden sailboat before sailing across the Atlantic. She and the ship's captain played very many cribbage games on the slow crossing. Her quests on the sea led to adventures in the mountains when she moved to Jackson, WY with her family after her father's demise in 2006. Liza's focus on health and fitness triggered her interest in the medical field. She worked first at Emerge-Care clinic in Yellowstone Park. Hired at 23 years old, she was youngest medical assistant at Teton Orthopedics. Impressed by her skills, the doctors there encouraged Liza to pursue a career in medicine. In mid-winter of 2011, Liza was accepted to the University of Washington
's Physician Assistant program (MEDEX) and awarded one of twenty seats in WWAMI, a Wyoming medical scholarship. She attended classes and clinical rotations in Seattle, WA before moving to Pinedale, Wyo., for rural and acute care rotations. Liza was on-track to graduate in August 2013.
She held a NOLS certificate as captain for sailing, a PADI diving certificate, a certificate from EXUM mountain guides for the ascent of The Grand Teton, and AVY-I avalanche training class certificate. An adventurous athlete and compassionate healthcare worker, she won friends everywhere with her infectious smile. Liza was dedicated to squeezing the most out of life, whether it was in her classes, the ocean, or on the mountains. Liza was a rare soul, bursting with youthful ardour, living life enthusiastically to the fullest each day of her short life. Liza is survived by her mother, Elizabeth Bravo Benson; sister Adrienne Benson; brother Peter Coleman Benson; and boyfriend Jason Ray of Pinedale. She is predeceased by her father, Peter Allen Benson. They and her uncles, George Benson of Casper and Kell Benson of Jackson, their wives, children and her mother's Bravo/Hobart relatives will forever treasure her life in their memory.
A memorial service was held Friday, Feb. 1, at St. John's Episcopal Church, Jackson, Wyo. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. today at Trinity Episcopal Church, Troy, with interment to follow at Riverside Cemetery in Troy. A lunch reception at the Troy Country Club will follow the service. Arrangements are entrusted to Fisher-Cheney Funeral Home, Troy. Condolences may be left for the family at www.fisher-cheneyfuneralhome.com
The family asks that donations be made in Liza's name to: High Fives Foundation, benefiting athletes that have suffered a life-altering injury while pursuing their passions and hobbies (PO Box 3212, Truckee, CA 96160); Tip Top Search and Rescue (PO Box 400, Pinedale, WY, 82941); the Teton County Search and Rescue (PO Box 1063, Jackson, WY, 83001); or the Physicians' Assistant program (MEDEX) at the University of Washington, Seattle.