Paul Gardner Benson
Andover, N.H. — Paul Benson, known to friends and family as “Benny,” died peacefully at home in Andover just short of his 59th birthday after a brave and hard-fought battle with cancer. He lived and died surrounded by the love of family and friends, guided to the very end by his heart for God and for people.
Benny was born in Concord, Mass. and spent his early years in Concord and Acton, Mass. He moved to New London, N.H. at age 10 when his father became co-owner of The Country Press, a small print shop in town. Benny grew up playing soccer and basketball, and enjoyed endless hours downhill skiing at King Ridge. He attended Kearsarge Regional High School in North Sutton, N.H. and went on to earn a degree in Bible at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass. Benny began working at his father’s print shop during high school, then made it his profession for 30 years after college. He eagerly embraced the introduction of computers to the printing industry, and enjoyed desktop publishing and graphic design work, as well as the relationships he built over the years with his co-workers at this small family-owned business. Outside of work he was active in Christian ministry, always involved in leading Bible studies or youth groups, bringing people from area churches together for worship or study. His other passion was soccer, a sport that he played at the varsity level during high school and college, and then in local summer and winter leagues through his 40’s. Benny also coached soccer at both Proctor Academy in Andover, N.H. and Kearsarge Regional High School for many years. In 2005, Benny left the printing business to pursue his passion for mentoring and ministering to youth and adults, becoming the assistant pastor and then interim pastor of the church that he and his wife, Cindy attended for many years, Grace Outreach in West Lebanon, NH. Benny was eventually asked to become the N.H. regional coordinator for campus ministry for The Navigators, an international ministry based in Colorado Springs. This allowed him to mentor students full time at both Colby-Sawyer College in New London and Dartmouth College in Hanover.
Benny was known for his hearty laugh, positive attitude and ability to make people feel welcome and accepted in his presence. The home that he and Cindy shared in Andover for 28 years was always filled with friends, family and the many college students that he and Cindy “adopted.” Benny found great meaning in mentoring young people and encouraging them to grow in their gifts and confidence by loving them unconditionally and challenging them to reach their potential, whether it be on the soccer field, in a small group discussion, or a one-on-one meeting over lunch to talk about the big issues of life and faith. He modeled a life of integrity, simplicity, loyalty, hope, faith, and love.
Benny is survived by Cindy, his wife of 35 years; two daughters, Caren Swanson of Durham, N.C. and Lindsey Allenby of Andover; two sons-in-law, David Swanson and Scott Allenby; three wonderful grandchildren, Clara Swanson (7), Camden Allenby (4), Micah Allenby (2); and an Allenby granddaughter is due on his birthday, March 25; his father, Gardner Benson and step-mother Ellen, of New Lebanon, Ohio; his brother, David Benson and sister-in-law Diane, of East Andover, N.H.; a niece, Carmen (Jeremy) Palmquist of East Andover; and a nephew, Jon (Meredith) Benson of Beverly, Mass. He was predeceased by his mother, Emma Harvey Benson, who died in 2006.
As a tribute to Benny’s life, and in lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent to the “Benny Fund for Campus Ministry” at Lake Sunapee Bank, PO Box 274, Andover, N.H. 03216-0274. This fund will be used by the two local churches Benny was most closely associated with, First Baptist Church of New London and Wellspring Worship Center in West Lebanon, N.H. to benefit Colby-Sawyer students and Dartmouth students. The purpose of the fund will be to forge a closer connection between the churches and their respective campuses. Donations can also be sent to KREM (Kearsarge Region Ecumenical Ministries), a fund started by area churches to help needy families and individuals in the Kearsarge region by meeting practical needs, something Benny cared deeply about. Checks can be made out to “KREM” and sent to PO Box 1465, New London, N.H. 03257. A service of remembrance and celebration will be held at the First Baptist Church in New London at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, followed by a reception.
Benny’s story and updates from his family can be found at www.caringbridge.org/visit/bennybenson.
Chadwick Funeral Service of New London is assisting the family with arrangements.