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.
I was saddened to hear of the passing of Benny. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at Iowa State University in Ames, IA. He was a strong supporter of the fraternity both with interest and encouragement of the members and officers.
We were honored to have Benny speak the 100th anniversary of the Lambda Chi Alpha chapter in Ames back in 2017. He brought Reba along and gave a recount of his experiences in and what college life was back when he was at Iowa State University.
I had a number of phone calls and emails with Benny over the year in my role as treasurer of our house corporation. I appreciated his love and commitment of his immediate family, as well as his “extended” family of alumni and members of our fraternity.
Rest in peace brother, until we meet again.
Steve Lubahn, on behalf of the alumni of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.
Dear Reba, I was so sorry to hear about Benny. I think not how we had a business relationship but how special you two were to me. You both taught me to be better a businessman and person. Know my thoughts are with you and the families. Don & Kathy Rider
We are deeply sorry for your loss. He is a such a great guy.
Benny took Creighton into the 21st-century with good humor and wise decisions. He was a mentor to me and many others. Prayers and condolences to his wife and family.
Sympathy to the family and friends. A great man to be remembered and cherished
I got to know Benny as a Lambda Chi Alpha Alum and through his generous gifts to our Chapter.
Reba and family,
If there was a nicer guy than Benny, we would sure love to meet him. He was always upbeat with a permanent smile anchored on his face. It was always fun when Benny was in the room. We especially appreciated his passion for the Creighton Bluejays – there was no more loyal fan. Heaven gained one of the best of the best. Benny will be forever missed by all who lucky enough to have known him. Our condolences on the loss of this awesome man.
Tom & Karen O’Connor
Dear Reba, I’m so sad to hear of Benny’s death. He was a wonderful friend and a great contributor to his profession. I grieve his loss with you and your family.
Much love, Tom
Reba and Family,
I knew Benny through Our Lady of Lourdes, where he had a major role in Capital Campaigns, was former Business Manager of our church, started the school Computer Lab and assisted at February Fundraising Banquets, Fall Festivals, Stephen Center Dinners, Coffee Hours, etc. He was “The Cornerstone of Our Lady of Lourdes.” He was a very active parishioner, had great knowledge and shared this willingness to assist and promote Our Lady of Lourdes with its many endeavors throughout the years. Bless Benny, Reba and all their family. ♥ My sympathy to Reba and their family.
Reba and family: God’s peace and love to you as you mourn Benny’s passing.
Karen and Jim Ressegieu
It was my pleasure to work with Benny as a member and officer of EVAPA. Also as a fellow collector of Oliver Tractors.
Sympathy to the family. I appreciate Benny’s wisdom, contribution to the profession, and always his good humor.
Dear Reba and Family,
On behalf of the Miller Families and Karcher Family from Colorado our deepest Sympathy and prayers to you and your family. Benny was truly a great man. Words are never adequate in moments like these. We will say though, that our hearts go out to you, and we will always remember the joyous memories that we are privileged to have in knowing your Husband, Father, Grandfather and Great-Grandfather
What a great life and family. Benny will be missed by all of his professional family as well as his personal family. I’ve know Reba and Benny for close to 50 years as professional colleagues. The Benchoters were great mentors to so many people. My condolences to Reba and the family. I’m glad he and Reba were part of my life. A life to be celebrated.
It has been a few years since we have had a chance to say hello. I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved husband. I did not know him and obviously, I missed out on knowing a wonderful and generous man. I wanted to extend my deepest sympathy and condolences to you and your family. Peace be with you all.
Darwin Brown, PA-C
Reba, so sorry for your loss. You and Benny are in my prayers.
The Creighton Graybackers will surely miss, but continue to remember, the support and enthusiasm that Benny brought to our group..
During my time as a business manager at Creighton University (1988 – 1995) I had the good fortune to interact with Benny and his team in the Bio-Information Center. Benny was always professional, kind, helpful and shared his suggestions. Through Benny’s leadership initiatives he moved the university forward in countless way. I’m also grateful that during my time at Creighton University I became friends with Benny and Reba’s daughter Ann Marie, and that friendship is still thriving today. Benny, thank you for the memories. You will be missed.
I worked with Benny for the 28 years at Creighton and thoroughly enjoyed every encounter with him. He was wise, knowledgeable, caring, a pleasure to know and work with as well as a devoted family man.
Our sympathy and prayers are with the family. Benny will be missed.
I was so saddened to learn of Benny’s passing. He was such a wonderful man with a delightful and playful personality. I am sure he will be missed; not only by you, but by many. I was lucky to see him this summer when he was on Creighton’s campus for a retirement celebration. I can’t help but think about the impact and legacy he left at Creighton and also the tremendous impact you left at UNMC. If there was a more influential couple in IT services in Omaha…I have not met them! Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.
Reba: So sorry to hear about your husband. I started working in PT Education at UNMC in 1990 when you were Dean of Allied Health. So impressive that you were both involved in instructional technology, as I remember your role in the TIPS program and educational telecasts to other parts of Nebraska.
My sympathy to the family of a good man and cordial colleague.
Thank you so much for your thoughts. I hope you are well. Brooke Ann
Please accept our most sincere sympathy on the loss of your wonderful husband. Our parents, who have gone before, often mentioned you and your husband to us as Thelma helped out with your children when they were growing up. She loved them so much and thought so highly of all of you. She spoke of them so much that we know all of their names Brooke Anne, Mary Lorraine, and Brian, you had a wonderful dad to look up to and you have our sympathy as well. May God comfort each of you. .
Thank you so much. I loved visiting Thelma and Johnny when back in Omaha. They have a special place in our heart.
I ran across Leon’s obituary in the Algona newspaper. Our paths have not passed for many years but I have fond memories of growing up with in him in Whittemore. We spent considerable time together and went to the 1947 boys basketball tourney in 1947, staying with his family friends in Iowa City. He was probably one of the reasons I went to Iowa State College in 1949. I met Brooke severall years ago when she was working in tv in Des Moines and I was communications director of the Iowa Farm Bureau. He was a great friend while we were growing up in Whittemore.