William Thomas BensonOctober 19, 1940 ~ September 4, 2017 (age 76)
William Thomas Benson
October 10, 1940 – September 4, 2017
William Thomas Benson was born October 10, 1940 in Topeka, Kansas to Emeline and George Benson. Bill lost his life to kidney cancer on September 4, 2017. His devoted wife, Mary, loving daughter and stepsons, Jennifer, John and Jeff were at his side. His diagnosis had come only 8 months prior. Bill fought his battle valiantly. Over the difficult months, his family members and friends held him close in loving prayer. Those prayers, along with Bill’s embracing a newfound faith in God, brought him to a state of grace, strength, peace and endurance during the last weeks of his life.
Bill and brother Mike were raised among the sunflowers of Kansas. Bill graduated from Topeka High School and enrolled at Kansas State University. His academic excellence earned him an appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. He graduated in 1964 with a BS in engineering. Upon graduation, Bill was assigned to flight training in Pensacola, Florida. After completion of training to fly the Navy’s F-8 Crusader, Bill flew 28 missions from the carrier USS Kearsarge during the Vietnam War. He completed a second deployment, and in 1976 received his honorable discharged. He enrolled at Columbia University where he earned his MBA in Business Finance, and ultimately moved to the San Jose area to pursue work in real estate.
After working as a broker for Coldwell Banker, Bill joined Koll Company, headquartered in Irvine, CA. He began employment as Vice President of Marketing. Under Bill’s direction, Koll’s commercial and industrial development was significant in growing the real estate market in the Santa Clara Valley and beyond. Bill eventually gained the role of President of Koll’s Northern California Division. Among his peers and competitors, Bill was highly respected as fair, honest and a tough negotiator. As as a real estate industry leader, he served on various real estate and charitable boards
Bill was a supporter of education. He taught Junior Achiever classes, served on the YMCA board. In more recent years, he made certain that his robotics club offered instruction to interested students. Bill’s heart led him to assist many young students. Whether the need was for moral or financial support, he was present and generous. Bill’s interests in his hobbies compelled him to take leadership positions in robotics, astronomy and magic. He formed a “Skeptics” lunch group who enjoyed great camaraderie and met faithfully over the years to banter and resolve “world issues” and “philosophies of life.” San Jose Sharks hockey was also a passion and, as a season ticket holder for 27 years, Bill rarely missed a home game.
Bill was passionate about his family! He and Mary married in 1980. They raised children, John, Jeff and Jennifer in Saratoga. With pride in each child, they supported the kids’ pursuits in education, music and sports including football, soccer and equestrian games. Bill and Mary lived a life full of adventure enjoying trips with family and friends. They shared in the joys of flying, upland bird hunting, fly-fishing, SCUBA diving, sailing, golf and world travel with friends and their children. Family vacations were planned not only for fun, but learning as well. An East Africa trip with the kids was one of the family’s travel highlights. The family also shared the excitement of SCUBA diving. Bill enjoyed a loving relationship with brother, Mike, wife, Elaine and their family. That bond remained over the years, and Mike spent precious time with his brother as a support during Bill’s illness.
Bill, affectionately called “Papa,” by his grandchildren, loved and adored them. He cradled them as infants, changed diapers and nurtured them from toddlers to teens. In their tender years, they snuggled on “Papa’s” lap and reveled in hours of reading and playing games, making joyous their shared time. “Papa” loved to incorporate fun into his grandchildren’s learning experiences. The games and puzzles he created for them to solve was his delight. In “Papa’s” presence there was love, warmth and security.
Bill is survived by his beloved wife of 37 years, Mary Benson; loving daughter and stepsons, Jennifer K. Benson McDowell, John R. Lawson and Jeffrey D. Campbell; beloved brother Michael McLean Benson and wife, Elaine, of Ontario, California; Seven adored grandchildren and step-grandchildren: Carson and Parker McDowell, Madeline, Emma and Scott Campbell; and Danielle and Brandon McDowell. Also surviving is mother of daughter, Jennifer, Cynthia K. Barnes Benson; cherished cousins, nieces and nephews, as well as many close friends.
Family wishes to express deep gratitude to Arvin Engelson of Saratoga Federated Church who provided comfort and spiritual guidance during his visits with Bill.
A memorial service was held at Saratoga Federated Church in Saratoga. Those wishing to make charitable contributions in memory of Bill, please direct donations to Hospice of the Valley, 4850 Union Ave., Campbell, CA 95008 (online: hospiceofthevalley.org.) or American Cancer Society: online: cancer.org (please indicate “research”)