John F. Benjamin died peacefully at home on April 20th surrounded by his loving family. Everyone loved John, who was known throughout his life affectionately as John, Johnny, Benjy, Benj, JB, Dad, Grandpa, and GGpa. He had a zest for life and to the end, never lost his youthfulness. John was the ultimate champion – of his family and friends, his profession and the causes he believed in. He always saw the joy in his life, appreciating what he had but also, fully embracing the responsibilities of the community. John grew up in Glencoe, Illinois, the son of the late Jack and Alice Benjamin and brother of the late Joan (Benjamin) David. He attended North Shore Country Day School from kindergarten through 10th grade and finished his final two years of high school at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. From there John went on to attend Yale University where he was awarded Phi Beta Kappa. Upon graduation John joined the family business, Uhlmann Grain Company. His first work assignment took him to Texas where he was set up on a blind date with Esther Rosenthal from Fort Worth. The two quickly fell in love and were married soon thereafter. John and Esther moved together to Highland Park, Illinois, where they began to build the foundations of what would be 65 wonderful years of life together. John went on to enjoy a long and distinguished career as an executive in the futures industry and played a leading role as a bridge between the Wall Street investment banks and the Chicago exchange community through leadership positions at H. Hentz & Co., Drexel Burnham and Salomon Smith Barney. He was a director of the Futures Industry Association (FIA) from 1986 to 1992, and in 2006 he was inducted in the FIA Futures Hall of Fame in recognition of his significant contributions to the industry. He took particular pride in being able to serve two terms as Vice Chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade. In addition to his professional accomplishments John, like his father before him, believed deeply in giving back to the community. He participated extensively in community service, including his much-valued participation on and contributions to various health care-related non-profit boards. After serving on the board of the Michael Reese Medical Research Institute Council and becoming board president, John joined the board of Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center in 1964. He served as a trustee until the hospital's sale to a for-profit corporation in 1991 after which he joined the Michael Reese Health Trust board where he served until the end of his life.
John also served on the board of CommunityHealth, the nation's largest free health clinic located on the city's west side that provides care to Chicago's most underserved residents. Following the clinic's founder as president of the board, John dedicated many years to expanding its impact and in 2014, was presented with the Visionary Award for his exceptional leadership and extraordinary contributions. In addition to helping serve the Chicago area's vast health care needs, John was also a generous donor to innumerable causes including the arts and education. John loved a competitive game of almost anything. He closely followed (and suffered with) his beloved Chicago sports teams including, most notably, the Bears and Cubs. John thoroughly enjoyed playing golf although, with his signature self-deprecating humor, he would say he was "far from being an elite player." He loved to travel and spend time with people, always bringing with him his characteristically contagious laughter. John had great convening power and never more so than with his own family who he adored. He never tired of saying that, "family is everything." John's deep heart's desire was to leave behind generations of family members who remained connected, loving and mutually supportive. John is survived by his wife Esther, his children Jack Benjamin (Karen), of Colorado Springs, CO; Sally Young (Shep) of Glencoe, IL; and Alan Benjamin (Amy) of Westport, CT; his eight grandchildren – Leah Benjamin, Michelle Morgan (Josh), Josh Benjamin, Hattie Egan-Young (Brian), Margot Young, Sarah Benjamin, Max Benjamin and Alexandra Benjamin; and three great grandchildren – Lucas, Gabriel and Micah Morgan. In lieu of flowers please consider a gift to CommunityHealth (http://www.communityhealth.org/
) or the Michael Reese Health Trust (https://wearemichaelreese.org/
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Published by Chicago Tribune on Apr. 22, 2020.