Leon “Benny” Gilbert Benschoter
December 3, 2021
Leon “Benny” Gilbert Benschoter (92), passed away on December 3, 2021 with his wife of 65 years and his four children by his side.
Benny will be remembered as a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather as well as a friend and coworker. His impact was felt by so many because of his generous spirit.
He is survived by his wife, Reba (Patterson); children: Brooke Ann Benschoter of Des Moines, Mary Lorraine Miller (Kevin) of Omaha, Brian Benschoter (Maureen) of Austin, Texas, and Annmarie Rollag (John) of Omaha; eleven grandchildren; two great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be on Monday, December 6th from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by a prayer vigil at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 2110 So. 32nd Ave., Omaha. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, December 7th at 11:30 a.m., also at Our Lady of Lourdes. To join the funeral remembrance online, please visit www.heafeyheafey.com and press the “View Live Cast” button on the home page.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Endowment, the Stephens Center Homeless Shelter, or the Leon and Reba Benschoter Endowed Scholarship at Creighton University.
Leon “Benny” Gilbert Benschoter, passed away on December 3 with his wife of 65 years and his four proud children by his side.
Benny will be remembered as a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather as well as a friend and coworker. His impact was felt by so many because of his generous spirit, servant leadership, and gentle humor.
He is survived by wife, Reba (Patterson); children: Brooke Ann Benschoter of Des Moines, Mary Lorraine Miller (Kevin) of Omaha, Brian Benschoter (Maureen) of Austin, Texas, and Annmarie Rollag (John) of Omaha; grandchildren: Alyssa, Michael, Henry, Megan, Max, Maddy, Claire, Lucy, Dan, Ben, and George; two great-grandchildren, Addison and Jack. He valued extended family and countless coworkers and friends from the church, his antique tractor hobby, volunteering, college fraternity and of course, the Creighton Bluejay fans.
Leon was born in Algona, Iowa and attended high school in Whittemore. He graduated from Iowa State University in 1953 with a business administration degree. While attending Iowa State, three things happened: Leon became affectionately known as Benny, he met his future wife, Reba, and he started a career in commercial and public television.
After working at Iowa State’s WOI TV as a floor director, he helped put KTVO TV in Ottumwa Iowa on the air in 1956. In 1958, he moved his family to Omaha to work at America’s first privately-owned color commercial TV station, KMTV. He jumped at an opportunity to guide the initial operation of KYNE TV, Omaha’s public TV station on the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) campus in 1965.
In 1973, Benny completed a Master’s degree in Educational Administration at the UNO. In that same year, he joined Creighton University School of Medicine to build the Department of Medical Television. In 1975, he created a more extensive service unit that became known as Biomedical Communications. In 1976, the unit began to serve all the health sciences in addition to the Medical School.
In 1977, Benny was named Director of the Bio-Information Center including the Health Sciences Library and Learning Resources Center while he continued to manage the Biomedical Communications.
Benny was added to the Vice President for Health Sciences staff as an Assistant Vice President and began managing all instructional and research space in the health science in 1985. Benny was the person who first conceptualized the Bierne Research Tower that continues to serve the University today.
In 1991, Benny expanded his work into a growing Information Technology program in a new position as Vice President. He advocated for and oversaw the implementation of computer technology across the Creighton campus including the wiring of seven student residence halls. His question quite frequently was “what is best for the students?” He also wrote and received funding of a $1,000,000 grant to provide fellowships to faculty members who desired to infuse the use of technology in their teaching.
Benny was known as a leader, innovator, communicator, and builder and he believed in helping others to do the same. Known as a “most visible administrator” at Creighton, he often walked the areas where his staff provided resources and services or popped in to classrooms where faculty were using the technology he passionately believed in. To many students who studied in the Creighton Health Sciences Library, he was lovingly known as “the Enforcer” because of his walking through the study cubicles. To them, he appeared to be monitoring their behavior when he was really monitoring their needs and making sure his team was meeting them. He “retired” from Creighton in 1997 after 24 years of service. Never really retired, Benny continued to support the university, its basketball team, and many other opportunities that struck him as needing whatever he had to offer.
Benny received the “Distinguished Faculty/Administrator Award” from Creighton in 1996. He received the “Golder Raster Award” from the Health Sciences Communications Association. He also served on Omaha’s Cable TV Advisory Board for 8 years. Benny and Reba also made multiple trips to China through Project Hope to share their knowledge of instructional technology in medical teaching.
Benny was recognized for many efforts and contributions that he shared with others from the Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Elkhorn Valley Antique Power tractor club, AARP, as an alumni of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, the Stephen Center Homeless Shelter, and his coworkers. Through the Friendship Force Program, he and Reba traveled extensively abroad and hosted foreign visitors to the United States.
Benny also loved his family and was married to his wife, Reba, for more than 65 years. Using carpentry skills developed in his early TV days, he made many home improvements and helped his children create their homes. Benny was always interested in the lives and education of his grandchildren. He was also the impetus for the annual Benschoter family reunion and enjoyed connection with the extended Benschoter clan.
The Benschoter family is so thankful that each person we have heard from because of this loss has told us of their love, admiration, and thankfulness for the man who was husband and father to us. And always, their friend.