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Bruce Benson, educator and pastor, 60

Dec. 4, 1956 - June 9, 2017

Bruce Frederick Benson, an educator who became a pastor in Colden upon his retirement, died Friday.

The Hamburg resident was 60.

Mr Benson graduated from high school in Williamsport, Pa., and attended Mansfield University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Music Education. Following graduation from Mansfield, he earned his Master of Music at the University of Buffalo and later received his Certificate of Advanced Study in School Administration from SUNY Fredonia.

Mr. Benson began his career as a band director at West Valley Central School District. During his time at West Valley, he  was involved in community activities, civic events and directed his local church choir.

For the next 13 years, Mr. Benson served as the director of the North Collins Junior and Senior High School bands, where he lead numerous ensembles that participated in concert band, parade band, jazz ensemble, color guard and band pageants across the northeastern United States. These bands were comprised of roughly 60 percent of the student population and received numerous awards, many of which are still on display in the community.

Following his time at North Collins, Mr. Benson served as a secondary principal at Forestville Central School in northern Chautauqua County. He created a school within a school atmosphere and developed a middle school schedule and programs for middle school students in a building that housed grades 6-12.

For the next 16 years, Mr. Benson served as the principal of the Veronica E. Connor Middle School in Grand Island, where he led the school into the next century and was instrumental in Connor Middle School being named one of the top 10 middle schools in Western New York. The Grand Island Chamber of Commerce recognized him as the Educator of the Year in 2012.

After retiring from public education in 2011, Bruce attended United Theological Seminary in Dayton Ohio, and became a local licensed pastor at the Colden United Methodist Church, where he continued to serve the people of Colden and the community of Western New York.

Mr. Benson is survived by his wife Jeanette; a son, Christopher; a brother Robert.

A memorial service will be held 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Eden United Methodist Church, 2820 E. Church St. Eden.

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