Peter A. Benson, M.D.
For 58 years he was a forensic pathologist for San Mateo County 1962-2020. He joked he might be the oldest practicing forensic pathologist in the country, but then discovered a slightly older one somewhere. He died unexpectedly on January 28th, 2020 at his place of work. He was 88.
Born in Mt. Vernon, N.Y on June 19, 1931 to Hjalmar Benson (originally Bengtsson), a Swedish immigrant, and his wife Dihna Lundstead Benson of New York City. He was a graduate of Clark University and the Yale University School of Medicine. He served residencies at Yale and at U.C. San Francisco. In 1968 he volunteered as a physician on the Ship Hope, serving 3 months in Cartagena, Columbia.
In 1959 he married Judith Mason and soon after, they moved to San Francisco for a medical residency. They stayed, and Peter took his job with San Mateo County where he worked for the next 58 years. He and Judy raised their two children, Erica (Charles Constanti) and Jesse (Barbara) in a big old house in a friendly Burlingame neighborhood. They later welcomed two grandsons, Pierce and Nico, with great joy. Peter's attachment to the grandchildren was intense and rewarding to them all.
He was an expert forensic pathologist, someone whom other physicians saw as a kind of sleuth. He loved the detective element of his work, retaining his commitment all his life.
A true Renaissance man, Peter balanced science and art. His appetite for learning new things of all sorts continued throughout his life. A voracious reader, he enjoyed subjects as varied as genetics, history, religion, psychology, and human development. He was a fine painter, and in recent years his turn toward sculpture produced a large number of beautiful assemblages made mostly of wood, but which also include found objects. He loved music, and spent many hours not only enjoying it, but re-listening to many quartets and symphonies to gain greater and greater insights and appreciation.
He is survived by his wife Judy, his two children, nieces and a nephew, two brothers-in-law and a small, tight circle of other family and friends. A man of character, modesty and devotion, he did like an occasional party. Though not a practicing Buddhist, he had in recent years followed the basic teachings of the Buddha, hence a memorial is planned at the Buddhist Temple, 2 S. Claremont Street, San Mateo on Saturday February 15th at 3 PM. In lieu of flowers, perhaps consider a donation to Planned Parenthood, The Nature Conservancy, the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City or the charity of your choice
He loved his family and his work, and died with his boots on, as he had hoped. Family and friends are bereft. He is absolutely irreplaceable.