Allen D. Benson, age 95, made his journey home on August 29th, where he will live forever more with the Lord and be reunited with the love of his life, Alma Benson. He was born in Borland Michigan on November 26, 1923 to Gertrude and Carl Benson, the middle of 5 children. His family moved to Grand Rapids when he was 4 years old. He graduated from Grand Rapids Central High School in 1941 before enlisting in the Army Air Corps during WWII. Al became a bomber pilot and flew a B-24 Bomber, as part of the International Liberator Club, while stationed in Taranto, Italy. He flew 25 successful bombing missions over Northern Italy, Germany and Hungary during the war.
After the war, he spent nearly 2 years in the hospital recuperating from tuberculosis which he contracted while serving. He came home and attended and graduated from the University of Michigan in Business Administration and then went on to get his CPA certification. During that time, he met and fell in love with Alma Varnell and they married 6 months later. They lived in Ann Arbor and then Benton Harbor where Al worked in public accounting before moving back to Grand Rapids. Al spent the bulk of his career working for the John Widdicomb Company for over 30 years as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President. He was a 40-year member of the Elks/Highlands Country Club in Grand Rapids where many lifelong friendships that he treasured were formed. Al was an avid golfer and tennis player well into his 80’s. He and Alma wintered in Port St Lucie, Florida for over 30 years and vacationed throughout the United States. They loved to travel and enjoyed visiting the national parks.
After retirement Al spent his time volunteering with the Grand Rapids Public Schools, teaching reading and math and with Feeding America. He was a lifelong member of Second Congregational Church, the Kiwanis Club, proud University of Michigan alumni and Alpha Kappa Psi Fraternity member. He was an amazing grandfather to the two loves of his life, Claire and Ben. He loved to take them golfing, let them drive the cart and have them visit he and Alma in Florida. Al always said how fortunate he felt to have such a wonderful life. He was grateful for everything he had and never took life for granted.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Alma Benson, his parents, Gertrude and Carl, sisters Helen, Doris and brother Don. He is survived by his children, David Benson, Steve (Steve Mancuso) Benson, Barb (Jay) Ertl, grandchildren, Claire (Sil Mandea) Ertl Mandea, Benjamin Ertl, brother Kenneth (Mary Anne) Benson, brother-in-law Gene Smith, several nieces and nephews and Varnell family members. Al was a true gentleman, hard-working and determined with a kind and generous disposition and dry sense of humor. He never met a dessert he didn’t like so the next time you indulge in your favorite treat, think of Al and remember how wonderful life is. The family would like to thank Sentinel Pointe, Porter Hills and Emmanuel Hospice for their service, compassion and kindness to Al and his family.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his honor to Feeding America or Emmanuel Hospice.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, September 4th from 4-7pm at the Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Home, 4291 Cascade Road SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Funeral services will be held on Thursday September 5th at 11:00am at Second Congregational Church, 525 Cheshire Drive NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505.
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