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1929 Raymond 2023

Raymond Benson

December 23, 1929 — December 21, 2023

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Raymond George Benson was born December 23, 1929 in Yonkers, New York  to Kenneth and Ruth Benson.  He was preceded in death by his wife of 69 years, Mary Jean Benson. Additionally, by his daughter, Susan Cox, his daughter in-law Beverly Benson, his parents, and brothers Allen and David Benson.
Ray received his Undergraduate degree in Biological Field Studies from the University of Massachusetts in 1951, with a Masters in Recreation from Indiana University. UMass Amherst is also where he met his loving wife, Mary. Much to the family lore, he won her hand after calling her when she missed a class they shared—she thought it was the professor and she was in trouble. After college, Ray commissioned into the United States Army where he went to Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning Georgia—Mary was often quoted as calling it “Fort Benning School for Boys.” Through a medical discharge from active duty, Ray continued his service first in the Army reserve, and later in the Connecticut and Indiana National Guard through 1961. Ray worked first at the Veterans Administration in Connecticut and Kentucky before working at the State of Indiana in various roles until his retirement in 1990. Ray was passionate about helping others, especially through therapy and recreation and served as the Director of Rehabilitation Therapy Services and finally the Deputy Director of Mental Health for the State of Indiana. Ray received numerous accolades, awards, medals and recognition for his tireless work to the State of Indiana to include the Sagamore of the Wabash.
After he retired from government work in 1990, Ray, along with his wife Mary, devoted their time to volunteering in community organizations, including two terms as president of Hendricks County Parks Board. In Ray’s own words, “we planned and agitated county government elected officials until we were successful in getting an ordinance passed in 2000 which enabled the creation of a county parks system in Hendricks County.” They ultimately put together the plan for McCloud Nature Park, Sodalis Nature Park, and most recently W. S. Gibbs Memorial Park, where Ray spent many hours walking and exploring. In addition to his passion for nature and preservation of open spaces, Ray also enjoyed gardening, birdwatching, winemaking and woodworking. Ray and his wife Mary also traveled extensively both abroad and domestically after their retirement. Additionally, they spent winters running their Christmas Tree farm, the “Benson Tree Farm,” which was a family tradition; all of their children and grandchildren had various roles in the operations from 1982-2002.
He leaves his children, daughters Joanne (Steven) Germain and Barbara McLean, and son Raymond Benson, Jr and son-in-law Charles McLean. In addition, he is survived by grandchildren Theresa (Daric) Eubank, Jacob (Jessica) Firkins, Jennifer (Nathon) Keesee, Adam Benson, Christina (Josh) Devitt, Lauren Quail, and Erica (Timothy) McDaniel and great grandchildren Peyton Keesee, Gavin Keesee, Quentin Keesee, Logan Keesee, Hannah Firkins, Zachary Firkins, Carter Benson, Belle Benson, Katelyn Devitt, Aiden McDaniel, Connor McDaniel, Erin McDaniel, and Amelia Quail.  He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews, and friends he called family.
Visitation will be from 2:00 to 5:00 pm on Friday, December 29, 2023 in the Hampton-Gentry Funeral Home, Plainfield.  A private family service will follow.  Inurnment will be in Fairfield Friends Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to any of these organizations:
Hendricks County Parks and Recreation- 955 East Main Street, PO Box 463, Danville, Indiana 46122 hendrickscountyparks.org;  Hendricks County Senior Services 1201 Sycamore Lane Danville, IN 46122  hcseniors.org;  or Family Promise of Hendricks County-- 238 North Vine St., Plainfield IN 46168 familypromisehendrickscounty.org.

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