Richard Louis ‘Dick’ Benson

Beloved husband, father and artist Richard Louis Benson passed on from his mortal body on Feb. 16, 2019, after complications from hemochromatosis.

Dick, as most knew him, was born May 12, 1950, in Waynesville, Mo., to Clark and Anne Benson of Rolla, Mo. He moved to Juneau, Alaska, as a young boy and graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School, where he started on his lifelong passions of ceramics and the outdoors.

Dick served three years in the Army from 1968-1972. In 1972, Dick moved to Ridgecrest to live with his cousins and attend Cerro Coso Community College (then a secondary campus for Bakersfield College). In the fall semester he took a theater course where he met the love of his life, Debbie. They were married in January 1973 and moved between California and Maine, then in 1976 had their first son Josh.

Dick moved the family to Arcata, Calif., to study fine art after being accepted to CSU Humboldt. He graduated in 1979 with a bachelor of arts. That same year they welcomed their second son Andrew. From 1981 on he was an adjunct art instructor at Cerro Coso. In 1986 Dick and Debbie had their third son Sean. In 1988 Dick went back to school at UC Irvine to complete his master’s in fine art by 1990. Dick then became a full-time fine arts professor at Cerro Coso, where he was able to share his love of craft and passion for art. He was also an avid member of the local art community, participating in the Maturango Museum Open Studio Tour, the Potted Barn and various other local art shows.

From his youngest days, Dick developed a lifelong love for both the ocean and the wild outdoors. He especially enjoyed going fishing with his sons and lifelong friend Mark Archer, spending time in his favorite corners of the Eastern Sierra. Dick loved to stay active both mentally and physically. He loved tennis, running, hiking, reading, learning, conversation, his daily trips to the market and taking his dogs for adventures through the desert. His gifts of being true to himself and truly present in the moment made him a great friend, teacher, humorist and artist. Although he had lived thousands of lives through the books he read, he presented himself with humility and a wry Midwestern smile.

Dick is survived by his wife, Debbie, of Ridgecrest; son Josh and his wife Stephanie of Ridgecrest; son Andrew and his wife Daria of Los Angeles; son Sean and his wife Natalie of Cambridge Park, Australia; grandchildren Julie and husband Sebastian, Djuna, Greta, Sierra and Maryjane; brother Tom of Tucson, Ariz.; his spirit-brother Mark Archer of Ridgecrest and many more loving family members and friends.

A gathering was held at Maturango Museum on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers or cards, donations can be made in his name to the Maturango Museum.

— Submitted by the family of Richard Louis Benson

Story First Published: 2019-03-01