By Pamela Goddin
Early on Dec. 6, Donald Jerome Benham slipped away, a week after celebrating his 98th birthday with his family. He suffered from pneumonia for the second time in two months, and didn’t have the strength to overcome it.
Donald was my father, and was one of the strongest men I ever met. My parents met at a skating rink. The story goes Dad told his friend this was the woman he would marry, without having met her. Mother says he tripped her and she fell into his arms. They arried in 1941 and had one of the strongest marriages I have ever witnessed.
They had two little girls when he was drafted into the army in 1944. He made sure has wife, Flora, and children would be cared for, and then performed his duty for his county by serving in the Supply Corps in the Army, in the Philippines. He received an honorable discharge in 1946, and came home to his newest baby girl.
Donald knew how to play, but first he was a hard worker, a loving father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was a strong example of the way a man should lead a good Christian life. He was always honest, supportive, and a leader in everything he thought was important. He was very active in his church and the Masons, serving in various leadership roles. His wife and he travelled extensively in their Airstream Trailer. He served several times as president of that organization. He served as president of his ham radio club. He was an excellent photographer, and took pictures of covered bridges in Ashtabula County to be used in a fund-raising calendar.
Dad always worked two jobs. He built many homes in Ashtabula, including ours. He retired as a Con Rail train engineer when he was 58. He continued doing construction work for many years while my parents lived in Florida.
He moved to the Hiram area four years ago, and enjoyed his life at his assisted living home by playing Santa Claus for the Christmas party, the announcer for their annual car show, writing the home’s newsletter, going to Geauga county Senior Center, and writing articles as a columnist for the Middlefield Post. He also attended church at Nelson Circle, and the Methodist church in Garrettsville.
Dad was a friend to so many, and loved by all. He was irreplaceable, and will always hold a place in our hearts. We are so much richer for having known him.
Editors Note: On behalf of the Middlefield Post, I am so thankful for the privilege of knowing Don Benham and we are grateful to his granddaughter Julie Fredrickson for recording his thoughts and delivering them to us. Don Benham leaves behind a great legacy!