The Rev. Richard Elden Benner died on May 18, 2013 at the age of 70.
Rev. Benner was born in Bangor, ME
on May 30, 1942 to Anne and Elden Benner. He graduated with a Bachelor
of Science and a Master of Education from the University of Maine in
1964 and 1969, respectively. He went on to attain a Master of Divinity
from Bangor Theological Seminary in 1974.
Benner was ordained at the First Universalist church of Westbrook, ME
on June 16, 1974. He was first called to the Unitarian Universalist
Church of Fort Myers, FL from 1974-1979. He then went on to serve the
Unitarian Universalist Church of Central Nassau in Garden City, NY from
1979-1987. In 1987, he began 11 years of service as the minister of the
Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota, FL. He left there in 1998 to
begin his final ministry at the First Unitarian Church of Omaha NE. He
served there until his retirement in 2005.
Benner faithfully served both his denomination and his community. He
spent two terms as President of the UUA’s Florida District. He also
served as President of the Sarasota Council of Concern; founding member
of the Sarasota Interfaith Education Coalition (SURE); and served on the
Board of Directors of the Sarasota Family Counseling Center. Due to his
belief in preserving and promoting freedom of choice and dignity at the
end of life, he served as the President of the Hemlock Society of
Florida as well as is first Floridian chapter, Suncoast Hemlock.
devoted follower of the renowned psychotherapist Carl Jung, Rev. Benner
taught classes based on Jung's work and attended the C. G. Jung
Institute in Switzerland. He was also a founding member of the C.G. Jung
Society of Sarasota, FL.
Benner enjoyed foreign films, British and Scandinavian television
series, and Civil War history. A true dog lover, he would often fondly
recall memories of his late, beloved, golden
retriever, Josh, named after Civil War hero and Maine native, Joshua
Chamberlain. Many knew of his poetic gift, and the "humanity,
compassion, and wit he was able to convey through his work.” He
published several books of poetry based on his experiences in the state
of Maine: Maine Moods, Living Double, and Night Songs.
Rev. Benner is survived by his loving wife of 47 years, Susan Benner; sons, Christopher Benner and Andrew Benner; and granddaughter, Sophia Benner.
There was a memorial service on May 25, 2013 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota, FL.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota.