RL Benson May 2, 1932 - November 14, 2021

It is with a mixture of joy and sadness that we announce the passing of RL Benson—husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, friend and disciple of Jesus Christ. Dad was 89 years old at the time of his passing. He was born in Thomas, Oklahoma on May 2, 1932 to Robert Lee Benson and Rilla Unell Cook. He was the youngest of their three children, having two older sisters Marie and Rhoda. He also had 8 half brothers and sisters. Dad, his mother and two sisters moved from Oklahoma to Fresno, California when he was 9 years old.

Upon arriving in Fresno Dad became aware that while he was smart in school he was backward socially. At Webster Elementary School while successful in reading, writing and arithmetic they would put Dad on the phone to learn how to talk with people and socialize. He ended up turning this weakness into his greatest strength. During his time in Fresno he was influenced by great people including his brother Bert, his neighbors the Reed family, and the Tinklin’s who followed his sports career at Roosevelt High School and would leave a $20 bill on the front seat of his car each week. He adored these people and allowed them to shape his life for good. Sports, however, was the vehicle that led him to his destiny. He was not even on any varsity team until his senior year in high school where his success in football, basketball, baseball and as the decathlon champion led to a scholarship at Fresno State in 1951. His success in football and basketball at Fresno State was put on pause when he followed the example of his brother Bert and entered the Navy from the spring of 1951 to 1955. After returning from his military service he enrolled at Fresno City College where his all tournament team performance and scoring the winning points in the California State Championship game earned him a scholarship to play basketball at the University of Utah.

While on the basketball scholarship at the University of Utah, he met Evelyn Thomas, a beautiful coed from Orangeville, Utah. They dated for a year and became engaged to be married. Dad was not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at this time. After their engagement, mom casually asked him if he was interested in being baptized and he said that, yes, he was. So, on May 2nd, 1958, his 26th birthday, he was baptized in the Tabernacle baptistry on Temple Square along with about 100 or more eight year olds. In early June he graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree from the U of U and then on June 14th, 1958 mom and dad were married in Orangeville, Utah. They were sealed October 30, 1959, along with 4 month old David, in the Los Angeles Temple.

Dad worked in the mental health field for the state of California for over 40 years. The family moved from Southern California (San Bernardino, Costa Mesa) to Northern California (Ukiah) and then eventually back to Southern California (Camarillo) where our family lived from 1972 until Dad’s retirement in June of 1997. Our family made cherished friends in every place we lived and mom and dad served faithfully in many callings.

Dad always regretted that he had not been able to serve a mission as a young man. Over the years he often said that after he retired, he and mom would serve. And serve they did—six missions. They were first called to the Lithuania Vilnius Mission, where they served as humanitarian service missionaries in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from 1999-2001. Soon after returning, they were called to serve in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City from 2001 to 2002. They again served a family history mission to the Utah Provo Mission closer to home in 2003. They put in their mission papers in 2003 believing they would be called to a mission in Scotland but were shocked to open a call to the India Bangalore Mission where they served for 18 months as humanitarian service missionaries. The Romania Bucharest mission was their final foreign mission in 2013. Not quite done, they accepted a call to the Provo Utah Mission to be the stake missionary couple for their home stake. Words cannot adequately express the impact their missionary service has made on those around the world that they served and their posterity. Future generations will call them blessed for their love, loyalty and devotion to their Savior Jesus Christ and to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Finally, Dad’s life was defined by his desire to serve his fellow man. He was a simple man as to things of this world. But he was always looking for ways to help and interact and get to know others. He was a domestic waste management expert. Any time he came to our homes he would get out a large trash bag and empty every trash can in our house. On trash day in his neighborhood he was out pulling neighbor’s cans out in the morning and back to their house after they were emptied. He worked tirelessly in his own yard but also cared for the yards of several around him right up until last year. He loved the interaction with the neighbors that this service afforded him.

RL is survived by his devoted wife of 63 years, Evelyn. Also, his five children and his grandchildren: David and Diane St. John Benson (David Brooks, Kenneth, Jeffrey, Evan, Brian and Weston), Lisa Hughes (Michaela, Caroline and Sydney), Brooks and Merin Jones Benson (Max, Neely and Darby), Reece Benson ( Brooklyn, Mychal, Sophia and Donny) and Kristin and Chad Rigtrup (Baylee, Seth, Benson, Samantha and Emma). And finally, 6 living great-grandchildren with one on the way and one precious great-granddaughter who was there to greet him when he passed, Ivy Virginia Benson.

There will be a viewing on Wednesday November 17, 2021 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Walker Mortuary in Spanish Fork. Funeral services will be held at the Canyon Ward LDS Chapel in Spanish Fork on Thursday November 18, 2021 at 11 am. Interment will follow at the Spanish Fork Cemetery.

Share Now

Viewing

A Viewing will be held
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
from 6:00 until 8:00 in the evening
at Walker Funeral Home
187 South Main Street
Spanish Fork, Utah 84660

MAP

Funeral Service

Funeral Service will be held on
Thursday, November 18, 2021
at 11:00 in the morning
at the LDS Church
3477 East River Bottoms RD
Spanish Fork, Utah 84660

MAP

Interment

Thursday afternoon, November 18, 2021
(following funeral service)
Spanish Fork City Cemetery
420 South 400 East
Spanish Fork, Utah 84660

MAP

Leave a Condolence