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Clifford & Jeanne Benson memorial (by Carol Benson & Maria Culley)

Clifford and Jeanne Benson placed a high value on education for themselves, their five children, and six grandchildren. Carol Benson, an OCC librarian since 1997, established the Clifford and Jeanne Benson Endowed Scholarship so that, like her, others could have access to a college education and all the possibilities that a college degree offers. She writes:

“My father, Clifford Benson (1924-2011), earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Michigan, but it took him many years to graduate. His is a story of persistence if you ever heard one! After high school, he went to U of M, but after a couple of years enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was stationed around the U.S., but never overseas. One reason: He developed tuberculosis.

“He was in and out of the hospital, and in and out of college for years. He picked up some credits at Amherst College in Massachusetts and the University of Detroit (where he met my mom). My parents got married in 1950 and went to Oslo, Norway for their honeymoon. He had figured out that the University of Oslo summer school (taught in English) offered classes that would transfer to the U of M and allow him to finish his degree. He then went on to work his whole career at AAA/Auto Club of Michigan as an insurance executive.

“My mother, Jeanne Bailey Benson (1927-2013), also placed a high value on a college education. Her dad was a medical doctor at Providence Hospital. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art from St. Mary’s College of Notre Dame, Indiana. She took a few summer classes at the University of Detroit, where she met my dad. She was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. She knew every answer on Jeopardy!

“She worked many years at the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham where she was a clerk in the reference department. She didn’t have a library degree, but I consider her an ‘honorary librarian’. She believed in lifelong learning, which includes traditional school, exposure to culture through the arts (museums, concerts, etc.), constant reading, and travel. My parents gave us the enormous gift of taking their kids to Europe in the summer of 1970, and many trips after that around the US, Canada, and Europe. They taught us that the world is one big classroom.”

The Clifford and Jeanne Benson Endowed Scholarship celebrates the legacy of this remarkable couple. Carol encourages the recipients to remember their values: persist in your goals, complete what you start, and never stop learning!

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