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John J. Benson

March 1, 1959 - September 25, 2021

On Saturday, September 25th, 2021, John Joseph Benson (age 62) became free.  Free of being tied to a concentrator and tanks.  Free of going to doctor appointment after doctor appointment.  Free of seven long years of medical struggles.  He was tenacious, strong.  He showed a lot of doctors that he was not going by their charts and statistics.  He hardly ever complained – just took it.  He is free now to be with his parents, his brothers, his son, and so many friends (and fur babies) who went too soon.

John was a very interesting man, and he had some wonderful stories.  It was truly a gift to sit and talk with him.  He was a Merchant Seaman and traveled all over the world.  He saw all seven oceans, and many seas and countries.  He loved sailing and being on the water, and under the water.  He tried to love golf, but mainly loved getting out on the course with his buddies.  He loved his pets and especially his buddy Fred Cat.  But his real love and spirit animal – the Black Bear.  He studied black bears in Ely, MN at the Wildlife Research Institute.  Founded the Facebook Page Protect our Bears and was an advocate to keep bears safe.  He loved to hike and be in the woods.  A true tree hugger.  He longed to hike the Appalachian Trail.

One would think with this description of him so far, would not know how regimented he could be.  He was in the USAF as an Air Reserve Technician.  He was by the book, never late, and toed the line.

He was proud of his heritage – England, Ireland, and Sweden.  He loved to tell stories of his uncles, aunts, and cousins from across the pond.  Oh, he had that quick wit and dry English humor!

But most of all, he loved his kids and family.  We were very fortunate that his kids and grandchildren were together for vacation a month before his passing.  Truly a divine gift.

He was a true friend to so many.  Loved to laugh – so many good times.  Through these things he touched so many…

Sailing, hiking, FSU football, Jimmy Buffett Parrot Heads, golf, hockey, England, Ireland, lighthouses, tattoos, scuba diving, darts, black bears, ships, Christmas, music, the Beatles, St Patty’s Day, pubs, pirates, the ocean, the mountains.  But he absolutely LOVED baseball.  Especially his team the Reds.  And going to the minor league games.  Oh, how he loved his baseball!  And to some dismay of his wife, John was an avid collector of ALL these interests.

John Joseph Benson was born on March 01, 1959, in South Ruislip AFB, England.  He lived in Moses Lake, WA, Rancho Cardova, CA, Enon, Ohio, Santa Rosa Beach, FL, and moved to Hendersonville, NC in 2009.

He studied at the Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship – Piney Point, MD.  John was a merchant seaman for many years before joining the USAF.  John was stationed at Wright Patterson AFB Ohio where he worked on F-15s and joined the Air Force Reserve Special Ops Group at Duke Field / Eglin AFB, Ft. Walton Beach, FL working C-130A Gunships.  He retired as SSGT in 1998.  John studied Management at Community College of the Air Force, Studied B. Sc Nautical Science at Charles County Community College.  He studied black bears at the Wildlife Research Institute in Ely, MN, and studied Veterinary Technician at Professional Careers Institute.

John is survived by his wife of 32 years, Paula Benson; his sons Troy Benson and Erik Benson of OH; his daughter Colleen Benson Mellouki (husband Jamal) of OH.  His grandchildren Olivea Clay, Gabriella, Alexander, Layla, Elijah, and two great-grandsons Scotty and Isiah.  Siblings, William Benson (wife Cathy Hamal) of MD, Patricia Warren of OH, and Michelle Fjelsted (husband Mark) of TX.  Many nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, and cousins.

He is preceded in death by his parents Herbert William Benson and Kathleen Sabine Benson Johnson (and stepfather Ron Johnson).  His son, Ian Michael; brothers Tom and Michael; brother-in-law Joe Warren.

Cremation and arrangements were made by Shuler Funeral Home of Hendersonville, NC.  We wish to thank them, the angels at Four Seasons Hospice of Hendersonville, NC, and his many caring doctors and nurses through all these years.

John Benson was one of a kind.  A loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend.  Now our Guardian Angel.  Raise a pint, a shot of good Irish Whiskey, or have his favorite – Captain Morgan and Diet Pepsi….and remember all the good times.  Sail on, John Mon!  Sail on……


If anyone would like to give a donation gift in John’s honor, please visit – North American Bear Center in Ely, MN.  Thank you!  He’s sending a big bear hug!



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