Patrice Gales Benson |
Patrice Gales Benson, a Seattle biotechnology entrepreneur, leading figure in the Puget Sound mycology community and active participant in the city's Polish-American community, died in her Seattle home on July 25, 2012. She was 59.
Patrice was born in South Carolina and grew up in Pittsburgh, Penn., graduating from Pittsburgh University in 1973. She moved to Washington in 1975 and began a career in hematology (the study of blood cells), joining the research program at Immunex Corp. (now Amgen) in Seattle as the company's third employee. In 1977 Patrice married Edward Benson, a Seattle endocrinologist, and the young couple spent three years living and working abroad.
An avid world traveler, Patrice headed the clinical laboratory at the L.B.J. Tropical Medical Center in Pago Pago, Samoa, worked as a research assistant in diabetes at the University of Auckland Medical School in New Zealand, and as a research assistant at the University of Hong Kong Medical School in China. She co-authored publications on diabetes and thyroid disorders.
Patrice returned to Seattle in 1982 and settled into her longtime home in the Mount Baker neighborhood with Edward, raising two daughters and engaging her love of gardening, cooking and mycology (the study of fungi). Patrice founded and directed the annual Mushroom Gathering at Breitenbush Hot Springs, an event that draws mushroom lovers from around the nation and world. She was President of the Puget Sound Mycology Society and the Daniel Stuntz Foundation, which supports mycological research at the University of Washington. A lover of the culinary arts, Patrice was a member of the prestigious Les Dames d'Escoffier and an expert cook who prepared many dishes from the mushrooms she gathered with friends.
In 2005, she founded BenTech Biotechnology Services, a major provider of human blood cells for medical research. She was, and still is, adored by her employees, who include her two daughters. Patrice was an expert gardener, Girl Scout leader, and dependable volunteer for many jobs in support of her daughters and community. She was a treasured friend to many and participated in many events at the Polish Cultural Center. She will be dearly missed.
Patrice is survived by her husband, Dr. Edward Benson, and daughters Katie and Jill, all of Seattle. A memorial service will be held at the Polish Home, 1714 18th Ave., from 2-5 pm, on Saturday, August 11. Her family requests any remembrance be in the form of a donation to the Rainier Valley Food Bank, an organization that was dear to Patrice's heart and where she helped provide meals for people in need. Please send donations in Patrice Benson's name to Jill Benson, 3818 Cascadia Ave South, Seattle, WA, 98118 or at https://co.clickandpledge.com/advanced/default.aspx?wid=56897.
Published in The Seattle Times from Aug. 3 to Aug. 5, 2012