Born: June 14, 1924
Died: July 03, 2014
The Rev. Howard C. Benson was embraced by God’s love and grace from the moment he was born on June 14, 1924 in Oak Park, IL until his children and their families held his hands during his last breaths on July 3rd, 2014 in Wheaton. He celebrated his 90th birthday just weeks before, among over 80 of his friends and family.
Howard served in the U.S. Army in World War II, earning a Purple Heart in the Battle of the Bulge in December, 1944. A graduate of Northwestern University, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and Yale Divinity School, Howard valued his more than 60 years as a clergy member of the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church. He served churches in Antioch, Hoffman Estates, Northbrook, Chicago, the Elgin District, Elmhurst, Naperville, and Downers Grove.
Howard enjoyed playing bridge, reading, watching critically acclaimed films, and attending the opera and symphony. He especially loved Bach and Beethoven. Howard would have loved to conduct Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto, “The Emperor,” with Ashkenazi at the piano.
Not a day passed that Howard didn’t treasure his remarkable wife Shirley, who died in 2011. Howard and Shirley’s adventurous spirits led them on travels across the world, but their favorite spot was their Michigan cabin on Lake Louise where they spent nearly every summer since the 50’s. Howard’s ashes will be buried with Shirley’s in a memorial garden by a chapel overlooking the lake.
Caring and gregarious, his life was marked with an expansive passion for learning and an unwavering commitment to building the common good. He had a zest for the beauty of life and serving the needs of others. His grateful family and large community of friends are the beneficiaries of Howard’s gentle and generous spirit. He is survived by his children and their families: Dr. Paul H. Benson and Stephanie E. Slowinski, Dr. John C. and Cate J. Grady-Benson and their daughters Jessica and Morgan, and Rev. Laura J.S. Benson and Walter J. Sliva, Jr. and their daughter Kendall.
Visitation will be at 3 pm, followed by the funeral at 4 pm, on Sunday, July 6 at Gary United Methodist Church, 224 N. Main St. Wheaton, IL 60187. In lieu of flowers, please make memorial gifts to Gary United Methodist Church.