Wakefield Faculty/Staff Deceased: In Memoriam

William Lewis "Toon" Benson
b: 6/28/1902    d: 1/29/1991

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William Benson MR. WILLIAM BENSON, Trigonometry; Solid Geometry
The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 1/29/1991

William Lewis "Toon" Benson, 89, a retired Navy rear admiral who had been an area teacher from 1956 to 1970, died of pneumonia January 23 at his home in Alexandria.

Admiral Benson was an engineering officer on the battleship Oklahoma when that ship was attacked at Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941.  He helped direct the rescue of sailors trapped below decks.  Later during World War II, while serving aboard the light cruiser Brooklyn in the Pacific, he helped rescue troops from a sinking transport.

He also commanded a destroyer division that provided shore bombardment of Normandy during the D-Day invasion of northern France, and a destroyer unit that acted as a carrier screen during the invasion of southern France.  He also served on Atlantic convoy duty and commanded a destroyer squadron in the Pacific during the war.

His postwar assignments included command of the cruiser Fresno and service as an assistant chief of staff of the Pacific Fleet.  His last post was as commander of the naval station at Green Cove Springs, Fla. He retired from active duty in 1955.

He then settled here.  He taught mathematics and science at Wakefield High School in Arlington from 1956 to 1967, then at the Congressional School of Virginia in Falls Church in 1967 and 1968.  He taught mechanical engineering and drawing at the Bullis School in Potomac from 1968 to 1970, when he again retired.

Admiral Benson was born in Sweden to American parents and grew up in New York state.   He was a 1925 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and received a master's degree in education from George Washington University.  He also was a graduate of the Naval War College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.   During the 1930s, he had taught English at the Naval Academy and served in the Navy's war plans division.

His decorations included two awards of the Legion of Merit.  He was a member of the Army Navy Country Club.

Survivors include his wife of 56 years, the former Gertrude Douglas "Petsie" Perry of Alexandria; two sons, William Benson Jr. of Huntsville, Alabama, and Perry Southall Benson of Lynn Haven, Florida.; two grandsons; and a great-grandchild.

Additional information is available at the Arlington National Cemetary Web Site at http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/wlbenson.htm

This page was last modified 22 August 2012
2010-2012 Wakefield Class of 1960 and Wakefield H.S. Education Foundation (information@wakefieldalumni.org)