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90th birthday celebration

November 8, 2012
The Town Crier
Special to the Town Crier
The Rev. John P. Benson celebrated his 90th birthday on Oct. 27, at his family cottage near Franklin, Pa. He was born in Warren, Pa., and is one of three children of the Rev. and Mrs. L.H. Benson. His father was an Evangelical United Brethren minister. After graduating from Oakland and Oil City High Schools, John attended Indiana State Teacher's College of Pennsylvania (now Indiana University of PA) from 1939-1943 and became a Pioneer alumnus of IUP in 2006. He graduated from Oberlin Graduate School of Theology in 1946 and received a master's degree in divinity from Vanderbilt University in 1973. Benson served the United Methodist Church throughout Ohio in Gnadenhutten, Woodsfield, Cleveland, Newcomerstown, Akron, and Elyria, before retiring in Austintown.
Benson served in the Air Force and Army in World War II, receiving a purple heart for injuries outside of Berlin a few days before it fell to the Allied troops. He was a member of the 9th Armored Division and assisted in capturing the Remagen Bridge on the Rhine River. It was a thrill for him to have the opportunity to participate in the Akron-Canton Honor Flight for World War II veterans in 2011 and see the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.
Rev. Benson and his wife, Thelma Miller-Jones, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States. They led trips to the Holy Lands and visited the homestead of his grandparents in Sweden. The Bensons also had a winter home in Florida, which they enjoyed for many years. He loves the outdoors and received much pleasure throughout his life fishing, hunting, swimming and skiing. John and Thelma have six children, 16 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren, many of whom attended the birthday celebration. Also attending were nieces and nephews from Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and Nevada.


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