One of Rabun County’s most beloved citzens died quietly at his home in Clayton, GA, on December 28th, 2002. To Dr. Earl Bennette Benson, these mountains were home and his neighbors were extended family, even though he and his wife, Rita Delk Benson transplanted themselves from Kennesaw, GA, only 15 short years ago. Doc (as he was lovingly known to friends and neighbors) first came to Clayton to join Dr. Richard Turner’s team as one of GA’s leading physicians in the field for treatment of addiction disorder. After several years of continued service to the community and Ridgecrest Hospital, he officially retired in June of 1995. Earl Bennette Benson was the younger son of William Howard Benson and Claire Bennette Benson and was born in Kennesaw, GA, on January 19th, 1920. He was a 1936 alumnus of Marietta High School and continued his education with a B.S. Degree from the Citadel in Charleston, SC in 1940. In 1944, Dr. Benson gained his medical degree from the University of GA Medical School in Augusta, GA, followed by an internship at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Portland, OR. He was able to combine two of his life passions when he served as Commanding Officer of the 260th Medical Aviation Detachment in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. In 1947, he began medical practice in Marietta, GA. In 1952, as the father of a growing family, he made the decision to leave his practice to pursue a specialty in anesthesiology at the Medical College of GA. He returned to Marietta in 1954 where he held the distinctive title as the first board-certified anesthesiologist at Kennestone Hospital. Earl Benson continued his role of caring and well-respected physician to his patients and colleagues for over 55 years. His wife Rita Delk Benson, her two daughters, Mitzi Tanner Starkey and Julie Tanner Sanders, both of Cartersville, GA, and four of his five children survive Dr. Benson. They are Sally Benson Wallace and husband Bill of Charleston, SC; Danny Benson and wife Jackie who resides in Kennesaw, GA; and in Clayton, GA; Peggy Sue Benson of Marietta, GA; and Scott Benson of Atlanta, GA. Dr. Benson’s eldest son, Earl Bennette Benson, Jr., of Ellijay, GA, preceded him in death in August of 2002. His brother, Dr. William Benson, lives with his wife, Peggy in Marietta, GA. His seventeen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren will also truly miss him. Dr. Benson was deeply rooted in the community by his love for the people here and to their lovely creek side home by his passion for gardening and landscaping. When not attending their many animals and gardening duties at home, Doc and Rita spent many happy hours worshiping at Battle Branch Baptist Church in Clayton. His passing will touch many lives locally and in his former home of Marietta, GA. Visitation was held at Beck Funeral Home, Clayton, GA, on Sunday, December 29, 2002 from 7:00-9:00 PM. Funeral Services will be held at Battle Branch Baptist Church, 1769 Warwomen Rd., Clayton, GA, on Monday, December 30th at 11:00 AM. Rev. Madison McCrackin officiating. In lieu of flowers , the family has requested memorial donations be made to Battle Branch Baptist Church, P.O. Box 483, Clayton, GA, 30525 or to any church of choice. Beck Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
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