Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.

Vernon L. Benson, age 94, passed away on January 2, 2019, in Bountiful, Utah, following a brief illness. He was born on July 9, 1924, in Blaine Township, Clark County, South Dakota, to Bent and Bertine (Jameson) Benson and was the ninth of ten children: Esther (Palmer) Fjelstad, Justin (Violet) Benson, Myron Benson, Eldorah Benson, Norma (Maxson) Brown, Lorraine (Arthur) Wasland, Loretta (Donald) McIntire, Berl (Jean) Benson, and Lane Benson.

Vernon was baptized and confirmed at Telemarken Lutheran Church near Wallace, South Dakota. He attended Blaine School 32 (SD) and graduated from Strandburg High School (SD). Immediately after high school, he attended Northwestern College of Commerce (SD) and was employed for a time by the Pillsbury Engineering Company on the field office staff at the Black Hills Ordinance Depot in western South Dakota. He would later graduate from Northern State University (SD) (BS 1951) and the University of North Dakota (MS 1963).

Vernon served in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1946. After basic training at Camp Crowder (MO) and advanced infantry training at Camp Maxey (TX), he joined the 90th Chemical Mortar Battalion in Belgium (First and Third Armies) and was a mortar ammunition handler in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. When hostilities ceased, his unit reported for occupation duty in Nuremberg, Germany, and later returned to Fort Jackson (SC). He was reassigned as an administrative non-commissioned officer and assisted mainly with the deactivation of various units. He was honorably discharged at Fort Bragg (NC) as a T/4 (sergeant) with five service medals with two bronze campaign stars (Rhineland-Central Europe) and the Army Commendation Ribbon, followed by membership in veteran organizations.

After his military service, Vernon continued his studies and embarked on a career in education that spanned four decades. He first spent 15 years in the South Dakota public schools (Eden 34, McLaughlin, Willow Lake, Hayti, and Watertown) as a teacher and administrator. Then, in 1964, he and his family moved to Big Rapids, Michigan, and he became a member of the business faculty at Ferris State University. His assignment concentrated mainly in various areas of business communications, administrative management, and business seminars. He retired as professor emeritus in 1987 and concluded his professional life in 1990 after providing administrative support for the US-131 Area Development Association. In retirement, he lived for nearly 30 years in Wyoming, Grandville, and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Vernon’s retirement years were spent totally around family activities. He and his wife of 62 years, Barbara (Vorseth) Benson, were married on May 26, 1956, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Wallace, South Dakota. Besides the joy of being a regular part of the lives of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild, they spent much time documenting family history and attending family reunions. They traveled extensively throughout the United States and Norway, visiting homesites and libraries in search of information about their ancestors and getting acquainted with newly-found “cousins.” Other interests included family church activities (councils, boards, committees, and education programs) and community activities (scouting and neighborhood organizations).

Vernon is survived by his wife Barbara Benson (Bountiful UT); son Gregory Benson (Bountiful UT), grandson Scott Benson (Bountiful UT), and great-grandson Joshua Benson; son Mark (Beth) Benson (Yardley PA), granddaughter Jennifer Benson (Claremont NH), and grandson Christopher Benson (Stroudsburg PA); sister-in-law Shirley (Donald) Tobias (Phoenix AZ); and nieces and nephews living in many parts of the country. He was preceded in death by his parents, his siblings and their spouses, and his daughter-in-law Barb Benson.

Cremation has taken place, and a committal service with military honors will be held in Michigan later this year.

Those who would like to make a memorial donation are invited to contribute to the Christ Lutheran Church Memorial Fund (2350 44th St SW, Wyoming MI 49519), Ferris Emeriti Scholarship Endowment (Prakken 101, 420 Oak St, Big Rapids MI 49307), or a charity of their choice.

To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign Vernon’s online guestbook or to share a favorite memory, please visit:

Arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Grand Rapids. 


Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.

4 Condolences

  1. Marcia Cook on January 7, 2019 at 10:56 am

    Vernon was a good friend to our family. My dad worked with him at Ferris State and his whole family became good friends to our family and have kept in touch during retirement. Prayers to his family at their loss of him.

  2. Carmen Benson on January 7, 2019 at 11:01 am

    My deepest sympathy to Uncle Vernons family. He was truly one of the kindest people who walked this Earth. His blue eyes expressed deep love for his family, and his quick wit gave others a reason to smile and laugh. He was my husband Corleys godfather, and he took his duties seriously, helping out after Corleys father, and his brother passed away at an age far too young. Corley loved him with all his heart. I am grateful that he was part of our lives. He served as an wondeful example of a life well lived. God Bless You, Uncle Vernon!
    Carmen Benson

  3. Sylvia Edwards on January 7, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    Our deepest sympathies to the entire family. What a wonderful man he was! We have fond memories of his gentle spirit. Love, Sylvia (Osburn) Edwards and family.

  4. Kathy (Osburn) Bailey on January 7, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    Condolences to your whole family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during your time of loss. We have many fond memories growing up together.

Leave a Condolence