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Don Benson

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Don Benson Obituary
Don Benson


Don Benson of Clive passed away last Sunday at the age of 82.

Don was born in Franklin, Nebraska, grew up in Lincoln and graduated from the University of Nebraska, a lifelong Husker fan. He received his degree in journalism and immediately put it to use during the Korean conflict joining the Naval Reserve as a journalist and embarking on a destroyer off the Korean coast. After serving his obligation, Don and his wife Jackie moved to Hays, Kansas where Don worked on the local newspaper, the Hays Daily News until accepting a post teaching journalism at Ft. Hays State College. After the birth of his two children, the family moved to Columbia, Missouri where Don worked towards a Masters Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri.

Don continued to work with the Naval Reserve, received a commission and was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade, serving in Intelligence units in Nebraska and on the staff of the Iowa Adjutant General, eventually retiring as a Commander after over 29 years of service.

The Des Moines Register and Tribune brought Don to Des Moines where he worked in the Promotion department for over 27 years. Promoting the R&T got Don out of the office and into Iowa communities across the state quite often. Responsible for the R&T's booth at the annual Sports and Vacation Show and the Register's Information building at the Iowa State Fair, the activity he will be remembered for by most is his part in helping to establish RAGBRAI. Known as 'The Waggoner Master', Don was at the starting point in Sioux City in 1973 for the first RAGBRAI and he helped organize the next 18 of them, supporting RAGBRAI several years after he had left his full time position with the Register.

Don was an avid train fan, his interest initiated by his grandfather who was a depot agent at Franklin, NE. Don was a member of several railroad fan clubs. Don served as board member and secretary of the Burlington Route Historical Society for several years. Additionally, he loved to ride bicycles and lead bicycle trips, a spinoff of the functions he had become so adept at for RAGBRAI. While most of the bicycle trips he put together were in The Netherlands, his largest effort was supporting the 'Iowa 150', a bicycle ride that promoted Iowa's Sequential going from Long Beach, CA to Washington D.C. in 1995.

Other notables, Don was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader, a member of the Tux Brigade of the ZA-GA-ZIG Shrine and a loyal Iowa Cubs fan.

Don is preceded in death by his parents, Raymond and Mildred Benson; and his sister, Karen Moore. Don leaves behind his wife, Jackie (Nothnagel) Benson of Clive; son, Mark Benson and daughter-in-law, Nancy (Lakin) Benson of Fairfax Station, VA; daughter, Nancy (Benson) Riederer and son-in-law, Bob Riederer of Sapulpa, OK; five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A visitation for Don will be conducted Wednesday, May 11 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Iles Funeral Homes-Westover Chapel, 6337 Hickman Rd. in Des Moines. A memorial service for Don is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, May 12 at Covenant Christian Church, 2700 72nd St in Urbandale. Interment of the cremated remains will be 2 p.m. Thursday at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery.

The family asks that memorial contributions be made to Camp Sunnyside via Iowa Easter Seals or Covenant Christian Church.



Published in Des Moines Register from May 10 to May 12, 2011
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