Tuesday our Iowa Lincoln Highway family was saddened to hear of Jeff’s passing. So many times over the years, Jeff was a ‘detail man’ to get the job done on various tasks at hand for the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association. He was also a great friend. Our condolences to his wife Margaret Elbert and family. He will be missed.
Jeffrey Donald Benson was born on June 28, 1952, the second child of Donald and Martha Benson, in Lawrence, Kansas. The family moved to Ames in 1958 when Donald accepted a position as an assistant Professor in the English Department at Iowa State University. As a boy, Jeff attended the original Edwards School, followed by Welch Junior High and finally graduated from Ames High School in 1970. After spending two years at Carlton College in Northfield, Minnesota, he returned to Ames to attend a community college. While there, he studied design and eventually found work in several engineering companies.
Early in his career, he pursued an interest in landscape architecture and interned for The Design Collaborative at Ames design firm in Ames. He worked under the direction of James Sinatra and David L. Dahlquist, landscape architects.
Throughout his professional career, Jeff became a distinguished landscape architect through his project achievements and subsequent services to the profession. He was perhaps the one of the few to pass the State of Iowa registration examination and immediately become fully registered before earning a degree in Landscape Architecture. Following his registration, he then enrolled at Iowa State to receive a B.S. degree in Landscape Architecture and continued on to receive a Master’s Degree in Community and Regional Planning. In 2001, he was employed by the City of Ames Planning Department and thus held the position for 14 years. While in this position, he was responsible for many projects for the beauty and betterment of Ames. In the 1980s, he played instrumental roles in the design and development of many major products including: the Gateway Hills and Green Hills developments in Ames, the State Historical Building landscape at the State Capitol, and the streetscape of downtown Fort Dodge, Iowa. Jeff served on the Governor-appointed Iowa Landscape Architectural Registration Board and the national Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Board.
Jeff’s success in his personal life was also mirrored in his personal life. On April 27, 1980 he married Margaret Elbert, of Ames. Since that time, they have been happily married for 35 years. Jeff and Margaret have contributed many years of service and leadership to the Lincoln Highway Association. Jeff also served on the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway Advisory Board and the Byways of Iowa Coalition.
Jeff died on Tuesday, May 26, 2015, surrounded by his wife and family, at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames.
Jeff is survived by his wife, Margaret; his two children, Peter and Nora; his mother, Martha Benson; his brothers, Timothy Benson, of Los Angeles, California and Jonathon Benson, of Lorton, Virginia; two nieces; and his father-in-law, Tom Elbert.
Memorials can be made to the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association, PO Box 224 Grand Junction, IA 50107 or the Ames Historical Society, 416 Douglas Avenue # 101, Ames, IA 50010.
His family is hosting a visitation for friends from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, June 1, at St. Cecilia Catholic Church, according to the Adams Funeral Home, which is assisting the family with arrangements.
Funeral services have been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. the following day at the church.