Donald Lee Benson: 1937-2014
Donald Lee Benson
Donald Lee Benson was born on Jan. 13, 1937, to Eugene Warner Benson and Fern Lucille (Kempton) Benson on the Benson Ranch. Don attended grade school at Knoke School, one-quarter mile from the ranch. He graduated from Lemmon High School in 1955. Following his graduation, Don settled into life on the ranch. It wasn’t long before he met the love of his life at a dance at the Morristown Hall, Helen Jean Erz. They were united in marriage on Oct. 28, 1957.
Don worked at the Thunder Hawk Coop Elevator for a year in 1957, and later would serve on the Elevator Board for over 20 years. In the fall of 1959, 1960 and 1961 he went out to Cut Bank, Mont., and ran a combine for several weeks, because of the drought in the Dakotas. He also drove truck in the 1960s for Melvin Stewart, later on owning his own trucking business.
When Don’s dad, Gene, passed away, Don and his older brother Lougene stayed on the ranch and ran the place. When Randy and Kevin were old enough, they began helping on the ranch and then joined their Dad in the operation.
He was living the life he loved ranching and watching grandchildren grow up. Don loved spending some quiet time at his log cabin on the Grand River. He never missed a Boss Cowman Rodeo. In 2012, Don and Helen were the Boss Cowman Honorees. He also enjoyed the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo.
Don was a perfectionist! He would say, “If it’s perfect, it’s good enough.” His brother Quentin gave him a sign that hangs on the shop door that says “If you haven’t got the time to do it right, how are you going to find the time to do it over?” This trait has been passed down through the generations.
Don passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 at the Rapid City Regional Hospital. We are all grateful for a peaceful death surrounded by family and friends and the widespread impact he had on all who knew him.
He is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Helen Benson; daughters, Karla Dalzell, Cindy and Nick Nehl, Pam and Les Urvand and Donella and Andy Elshere; sons, Randy and Noelle Benson and Kevin and Patti Benson; 16 grandchildren, Kayla, Kyle and Kelsey Dalzell, Jess and Logan Nehl, Sarah Urvand, Amber and Brent Gunderson, Clint Urvand, Cole and Kami Elshere, Whitney and Derek Olson, Rowdy and Miranda Benson, Chantz and Preston Dirk and Emily Benson; nine great-grandchildren, Donny, Mia, Finnley, Tymber, Retro, Remi, Jordyn, Shyanna and Riley; brothers, Vance and Mona Benson and Quentin and Joanne Benson; and special family friend, Dan Larson.
He was preceded in death by his grandson, Brandon Dalzell; his parents, Eugene and Fern Benson; and one brother, Lougene Benson.
Funeral services were held Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, at the St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Lemmon, S.D., with Deacon Bill Dustman officiating.