Gerald W. Benson, Age 91, of Springfield, MI passed away on July 24, 2022, 13 months after the death of his wife, Mickey.
Gerald “Gerry” or “Ben” to those closest to him, was born at home in a small house on Avenue C (Battle Creek) to Thomas and Esther Benson on September 7, 1930. He is also preceded in death by his parents and brothers Royce and Ralph Benson. He is survived by children Jeff Benson, Lynne (John) Chipman, grandchildren Emiline Chipman and Jack Chipman and niece Shellie Benson.
As a youngster, he worked at Leatherman’s on Upton and Forest Street, pumping gas. From a family of outdoorsmen, Gerald hunted and fished from an early age. He also trapped muskrat and mink in the area for extra money, much as later generations might mow lawns or deliver newspapers.
When he was old enough, he pleaded with his father to take him along on the annual deer hunting trip in the UP along with his older brother Royce. He borrowed a hunting rifle from his lifelong friend Wayne Leatherman. Being the Great Depression era, luxuries such as insulated boots were not possible. The boys stuffed wadded up newspapers in their galoshes to keep their feet warm. They didn ’ t really know they were poor, and they just wanted to be involved in the adventure.
Following in his father’s footsteps, he worked as a mechanic at Post Cereal in Battle Creek. Ben met Mickey while she was making candy canes at a local candy shop, and they married in 1950. He first served in the National Guard in Battle Creek, and later was drafted into Marine Corps air wing in 1952. He trained as an aviation mechanic, and worked on the AD Skyraider. Pilots would take him up occasionally so he could get ‘ flight pay ’ . After fulfilling his duty with the Marines he went back to Post working 7 days a week, until he retired in 1985.
At home, he enjoyed puttering with all things mechanical, small engines, any repair of anything and could tell what was wrong with an engine just by listening to it, before his hearing failed. For family vacations, he would drive the family out to visit family in Kansas, California or the UP.
Ben enjoyed pheasant and deer hunting, fishing in the local area as well as salmon fishing on Lake Michigan. Other favorites were vacationing at Silver Lake, walleye fishing at Birch Lake, Ontario and gardening.
After retiring, he and Mickey spent winters in Yuma, and enjoyed walking with beloved dogs Barney and Pepper. He loved his family more than anything and was always interested in what his kids and grandkids were up to. He had quite the way with words and will leave some memorable anecdotes for his family to remember. “And that’s a little bit about that story.”
A memorial will be held at Fort Custer National Cemetery on September 7, 2022, at 11:30 am. Immediately following, there will be a light lunch at the family’s home nearby.