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Clifford R. Benson

April 16, 1924 September 16, 2011
Clifford R. Benson
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Obituary for Clifford R. Benson

Clifford R. Benson, of Beverly Hills, died peacefully at home September 16, 2011, surrounded by his family. He was 87 years old. Mr. Benson was born April 16, 1924, in Detroit, Michigan, the only child of Helen (nee McDonnell) and Rex Benson.

Mr. Benson grew up in Detroit and attended Cooley High, where he played saxophone in the marching band. He loved baseball and his father often took him to Opening Day at Tiger Stadium. He participated in Boy Scouts and worked hard to eventually become an Eagle Scout. Cliff became friends with Gordon �Gordie� Cowperthwaite in grade school and the two stayed friends for life. During high school, Cliff and Gordie took on four more friends and the �Silver Six� was formed: Cliff, Gordie, Al Fink, Phil Toll, Collin Wilcox, and Don Mickey Maclean. The �Silver Six� held annual reunions up until just a few years ago.

In April of 1950, Mr. Benson married the love of his life, Jeanne Bailey, whom he affectionately called Dolly. Cliff and Jeanne had met during summer school at the University of Detroit. The couple honeymooned in Norway, where Cliff finhsed his college studies at the University of Oslo. In Norway, they made lifelong friends, Irmelin and Harald. Twenty years later, Cliff and Jeanne returned to Norway and brought their five children with them.

Professionally, Mr. Benson was an insurance executive for AAA of Michigan for 39 years, retiring in 1989 as Vice President and Secretary. He was instrumental in developing Michigan�s No Fault Insurance Law that passed in 1973.

An adult convert to Catholicism, Mr. Benson was steadfast in living out his faith, volunteering often and sending all of his children to Catholic schools. Throughout his life, he was an active member of many parishes, including St. Theresa in Detroit, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Beverly Hills, St. Owen in Bloomfield Hills, and Holy Name in Birmingham.

Cliff was also a graduate of U of M and a devoted Wolverine football fan. He held season tickets for many years. He also enjoyed black and white photography, sandlot baseball, travelling with Jeanne, and music, especially Jazz. He served as a finance expert for the Village of Beverly Hills. He was also a dedicated member of Theta Chi at U of M and the Brother Rice and Marian Development Councils.

In addition to all of these responsibilities, every night Cliff would pick up Jeanne�s godmother and dear friend, Elisabeth Schulte, known to the family as Beep, from the bus stop and bring her home, where she lived with the Bensons for over 40 years.

A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Cliff will be remembered best as a man who put the needs of others before his own. He was deeply loved and will be sorely missed.

Mr. Benson is survived by his beloved wife, Jeanne, his children, Maria (Paul) Culley of Tomaball, TX, Betsy (Randy) Baier of Manchester, MI, Peggy (Eric) Burt of La Canada, CA, Carol (Don Haffner) Benson of Beverly Hills, MI, and Mike (Liz) Benson of Boulder, CO. He is also survived by his six grandchildren, Nicholas and Addie Baier, Carl and Christina Culley, Shannon Burt, and Zoe Benson.

A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Holy Name Catholic Church, 630 Harmon, Birmingham, Tuesday 10am. Friends may visit beginning at 9:30am.

Memorials appreciated to Brother Rice High School, 7101 Lahser Road, Bloomfield Hills 48301, or the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, 1840 Mt. Elliott, Detroit, Michigan 48207.


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