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In Memory of . . . Richard E. Benner (1942-2013)

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 17, 2013

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.

Rev. 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.

Rev. 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.

A 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.

Rev. 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.

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