Peaceful 10

Michael Rowland Benn

December 18, 1949 ~ October 28, 2021 (age 71)

Tribute

Mick, 71, was born in the basement of his father’s medical office at the corner of Main and Acacia Streets in downtown Ripon. He shared that distinction with one of his three brothers and scores of others that were delivered in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He spent the last ten years of his life in his home just two blocks from where he was born.

He was the third of four sons of Jim and Jeanne Benn. They were both raised and educated in the San Francisco Bay Area and loved taking their boys there to football games, restaurants and theaters. Though Mick enjoyed those outings, he preferred a slower pace and the much smaller, friendlier community of Ripon. With his older brothers Jim III and Charlie and younger brother Dave, the Benn boys cut quite a large path in the small town. From the mid-1950s to early 1970s, the front yard of the Benn’s home was the setting for many games of football, basketball and kick-the-can. The neighborhood crowd of kids was nicknamed the Vera Street Gang by some of the Ripon Grammar School teachers.

Mick attended Ripon Grammar (later changed to Ripon Elementary to the dismay of  the Benn brothers!) and graduated from Ripon High school in 1968. He attended Humboldt State, the University of the Pacific and graduated from Chico State.

While growing up in the idyllic world of small-town USA he was a Boy Scout, an acolyte at St. Paul’s Episcopal church in Modesto, played classical guitar and became SCUBA certified while still a young teenager. He learned to develop photographs and turned the Benn boys’ shared bathroom into a part time darkroom. He started weight training in grade school and became a winning wrestler at Ripon High and very successful as both a fullback and middle linebacker on the football team. 

Mick was an adult learner. He became a very good cook and enjoyed learning about cooking for the remainder of his life. He was fond of the music of Bob Dylan, John Prine and Joan Baez. He loved folk music, bluegrass and Andres Segovia’s classical guitar. After spending the Summer of 1974 in Kenya, he remained fascinated by Africa.  During recent decades he enjoyed multiple fishing trips with brother Charlie to Cabo San Lucas and British Columbia. In 2018 Mick joined brothers Charlie and Dave for an  extended tour of World War II sites in Europe, and added time in Ripon, England. He was a Renaissance Man with a goofy sense of humor who enjoyed expanding his knowledge of the world and the human condition.

After graduating from college, Mick attended the Radiologic Technology program at San Joaquin General Hospital and began his career at Memorial Hospitals Association and worked there for 34 years. In 1980 he married Robin Baker, a nurse he met at Memorial. During their 26 years of marriage they lived in Ripon, Modesto and finally in a small ranchette outside of Waterford where they had horses and dogs and enjoyed living in the country. Mick moved back to Ripon in 2011, retired in 2013 and spent much of his summers at the family cabin in Pinecrest.

Mick was preceded in death by his father, Jim Benn Jr., MD; mother Jeanne Kesler Benn and his oldest brother, Jim Benn, III.  He is survived by two of his brothers and three sisters-in-law:  Charlie Benn (Roberta) of El Macero, Dave Benn (Kathy) of Modesto and Sharon Benn of Ronan, Montana. Also surviving Mick are his nephews and nieces: Jim Benn of Bigfork, Montana, Megan Benn of upstate New York, Erin Bass (Chris) of Elk Grove, CA, Kes Benn (Jinnah) of Nevada City, CA, Kyle Benn (Julie) of Napa, CA, Krista Nowaczyk (Nick) of Scottsdale, AZ, and Caitlin Scordalakis (Steven) of Elk Grove, CA. Mick also leaves fifteen great-nephews and -nieces in Montana, Texas, California and Arizona

A Celebration of Life is planned at a later date.  At Mick’s request, his remains will be committed privately. Deegan Funeral Chapel of Ripon is serving the family at this time.  In lieu of flowers, the family would be honored if you would like to donate, in Mick’s memory, to any charity or special service organization of your choosing.

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