COLORADO — Leslie Jerome (Jerry) Benson, 77, passed away peacefully on Friday (Nov. 19, 2021).
Jerry was born in Rockford on April 26, 1944, to Leslie and Josephine Benson. After graduating from Delavan-Darian High School, Jerry attended the University of Wisconsin, where he met his first love, Terry Benson (Skrevanos). Jerry and Terry enjoyed a loving 53-year marriage that began June 27, 1964, at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Moline. Later they relocated to Champaign, where Jerry graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.S. in civil/environmental engineering.
Jerry and Terry raised their two children in Champaign and were active in their church, with Jerry serving on the Parish Council. Jerry enjoyed golfing with friends, fishing trips with his son, and attending cultural events with his wife, Terry. He was a proud grandfather, and his grandchildren adored their “Papou.” Jerry loved to travel the world, and he and Terry enjoyed vacations to Greece, Germany and Mexico.
Jerry had a successful career with the Army Corps of Engineers, receiving a U.S. patent for his water conservation design and winning Army Researcher of the Year in 1984. In 1985, he co-founded Isotech Labs, Inc., which grew to over 50 employees and was eventually sold in 2011. That year, Jerry and Terry fulfilled a lifelong dream and retired to Colorado to be near the mountains, where they had often vacationed.
Jerry loved his Orthodox faith and was an active member at St. Luke Orthodox Church in Erie, Colo., joyfully serving on several ministries. He was a lifelong member of the Order of St. Ignatius and served on the board of directors of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies. Jerry was devoted to preserving the environment and a proud supporter of The Wild Animal Sanctuary.
While Jerry’s first wife, Terry, passed away in 2017, Jerry was blessed to marry Mary Benson (Mabry) on July 31, 2021. Though their time together was brief, Jerry and Mary shared a loving and joyful connection and felt blessed to have found each other. His optimistic and generous spirit will be sorely missed.
Jerry is survived by his wife, Mary Benson (Mabry); two children, Heather Luedtke (Don) and Christopher Benson; and two grandchildren, Matthew Luedtke and Erica Luedtke.
Memorial contributions can be made to St. Luke Orthodox Church, Erie, Colo., or The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Keenesburg, Colo. Please visit howemortuary.com to share personal condolences.