|Birth: ||Feb. 7, 1911, USA|
|Death: ||Jul., 1984|
North Carolina, USA
"Willis Benson was married to Dorothy Benson and the father of two sons. He was a most unusual person. He was Capt of a fishing vessel in Florida. Then moved, taking his family with him to Kodiak Island, Alaska." (Rev. Robert Peurifoy)
"Here lies a man whom some of us found hard to love. A man who expected a lot out of everyone he knew, including himself. A man who lived life at its extremes. Willis Oliver Benson was no ordinary man.
For many years now, I have described him to others as a cross between Ernest Hemingway and a Kodiak Bear... a dinosaur...a throw-back from another time.
He would have been a hell of a Mountain Man in the old American West, for he was a man who could out swear, out gamble, out drink, and out fight any man I've ever met. Willis Oliver Benson did not live in the Old West, however...nor in the days of Pirates, Gladiators, or Vikings, as he might have wished.
Living in the 20th Century there were only a few occupations that he could really love. Football was one. He built many muscles and broke many bones as a hard-hitting semi-pro tackle in Philadelphia carrying numbers 10, 11, and 13.
The strength and the pain were trophies he carried with him the rest of his life.
His great love of the outdoors, led him, during the Depression, to work in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). He once told me that he kept his axe so sharp that he could shave with it, and he was very proud of the land he helped beautify and the bridges he helped build.
Another lofty ambition of his was to become a flying ace. A dream that perhaps started when, at the impressionable age of 16, he learned of Lindbergh's historic flight across the Atlantic. Sadly, fate only allowed him to solo once as a Navy pilot-trainee before taking this dream away from him.
With these options closed, the young, handsome man who had a burning desire to learn, became a teacher. During his long career as a physics and science teacher, thousands of his students came to love and respect him. He was strict and asked a lot of them, but they fondly called him "Mr. B.," and many thanked him years later for what he had given them.
Perhaps his biggest dream was to one day live in Alaska. He not only realized this dream, but drew the plans, cut the tall timber, and built a beautiful log home that was, and is, the pride of the Benson's. It is a monument far more fitting to him than the stone that rests here in his memory.
And he will be remembered. He may not always be remembered fondly by some, for he could be boisterous and was nearly always unpredictable. He was a man who lived by his own rules, and for most of his life, it was "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" But if he liked you, he would give you the shirt off his back, and his handshake was his bond.
During his long life, he was many things to many people.....son, brother, husband, father, teacher, coach, drinking mate, enemy, and friend. He was a machinist, lumberjack, student, teacher, landlord, fisherman, farmer, hunter, and entrepreneur. As an amateur mechanic, plumber, carpenter, and architect, he was only happy living in a home that was in need of his skills. He always left his homes, or any project he worked on, better than he found them. "If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right," he often remarked.
His love of the sea, and his many boats, from the Rumdi Fumdi to the Tsunami K., led him on many adventures and earned him another nickname, "Captain B." In later years, a well-worn captain's hat could always be found rakishly placed atop his head.
I thoroughly believe that Daniel Boone, Samuel Clemens, or Teddy Roosevelt, would all have found him good company. With cigar in mouth, and scotch in hand, he looked life straight in the eye, and often laughed at death.
He was a man who knew no fear, except that of growing old and of being alone.
As we close the book on this man's life, let us leave here with some fond memories of a man out of his time. A man larger than life. Be you relative, acquaintance, or friend, surely each of you has been touched by this man.
Perhaps you will remember him for what he believed in: doing one's best; helping those less fortunate; and standing up for what's right. Remember him for his love of nature and for his strength of feeling. Or remember him for doing what most of us only wish we could do: saying what we feel and acting as we wish; traveling all over the world, having countless adventures (from bear hunt to shipwreck); and for not only dreaming big, but managing to fulfill many of his dreams.
Or remember him for the spit in his eye and the fire in his gut. For the tough, take-it-as-it-comes, bulldog proud man that he was.
Or finally, remember him for the strong abiding love you know he had for you, locked deep within his prideful soul.
For I know you will remember him. He was, and forever will remain: A man that few could follow."
(From his 1984 Eulogy, with slight editing.)
Charles James Benson (1884 - 1950)
Rachel Lavina Founds Benson (1893 - 1982)
Dorothea Marie Morrow Benson (1915 - 1999)*
Click on his tombstone for more information.
Old Mother Church Cemetery
North Carolina, USA
Plot: Lot 113, Section III
Maintained by: Bill Benson
Originally Created by: Robert C. Peurifoy
Record added: Mar 05, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 49213901
Rest in sweet peace, Willis. Your memorial was inspiring, to say the least. You were quite a man. You will not be forgotten and today you are being remembered with a smile. Your love of the wild and being your own person are memorable....|
Added: Mar. 24, 2016
Added: Mar. 20, 2016
Added: Jan. 13, 2016
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