Lt. Col. L.J. Benson

Published 3:57 pm Monday, April 1, 2024

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Jan. 19, 1935 – March 30, 2024

Services for Lt. Col. L. J. “Jack” Benson (Retired), who died Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Natchez, MS, will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, 2024, at First Baptist Church in Natchez with the Pastor Joe Champion and Dr. Doug Broome officiating.

Visitation will be from noon until service time at the church.

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Burial will follow the service at the Natchez City Cemetery, under the direction of Laird Funeral Home.

Jack was born on Jan. 19, 1935, in Bastrop, LA, the son of Lawrence Jackson Benson and Ethel Williams Benson.

The family later moved to Natchez, where Jack attended Natchez High School. There he excelled in all sports, lettering in football and basketball. Playing both center and guard, he helped the NHS football team win the South Big 8 Championship in 1953 and the NHS basketball team win championships in 1953 and 1954.

Jack and three football teammates were chosen to play in the 1954 All-Star North-South Mississippi High School game, which the South won.

For his outstanding achievements in athletic performance, Jack won a football scholarship to Mississippi State University. There he played center and guard, making the All-SEC team and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1959.

Though he considered going to Auburn University to study veterinary medicine, his completion of the Mississippi State Army ROTC program led to a commission as a U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant.

He served first in Hawaii; then in Vietnam, where he was in charge of 1,000 troops; then in Okinawa, Japan, and last in San Antonio, TX.

During his military career, he received numerous commendations and awards for his exemplary work. He was extolled for his leadership abilities while serving as Director of Operations over more than 700 military personnel.  Official reports called Jack “the most knowledgeable officer on station” and “an absolutely outstanding officer.”

For his work, he received the Legion of Merit award and, several times, the Meritorious Service Award for exceptional achievements.

In 1980 Jack retired from the military and returned to the Miss-Lou, where he began a second career at Trinity Episcopal School in Natchez. There he taught history and psychology and coached football teams for 15 years.

In 1989, under Jack’s leadership, the Trinity team won its first football state championship in the Mississippi Private School Association. Jack was recognized for his talent and leadership by the MPSA and was twice named Natchez Metro Coach of the Year.

In 1982, Jack was a founder and charter member of the Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, serving the first two years as president.  He won the National Football Foundation Distinguished American Award in 1989 for his “superior qualities of scholarship, citizenship and leadership.”  He was also honored by Trinity School when the new Trinity Fieldhouse was named after him in 2003.

Awarded for his athleticism and leadership abilities, Jack was also known for being a Golden Globe boxer and for his harmonica playing and storytelling.

Jack is survived by his wife of 48 years, Peggy Ming Benson; his son, Jack Ward Benson, and his wife, Sharon; his daughter, Areecia Lopez; and his daughter, Jacquelyn Ming “Jackie Bee” Benson Currie, and her husband, Paul Currie; and his grandchildren, Arrington Benson, Zachary Benson, McKenzie Benson, Edwardo Lopez, Elwyn Lopez, Sarah Margaret Currie, Jack Benson Currie and David Paul Currie, III (Bo).

Pallbearers will be Tony Byrne, Dr. Edward Daly, Jr., George Maxwell, Bob Flurry, Dr. Kirk Mullins, Dr. James (Jimbo) Green, Jerry Geter, and Joseph (Junior) Miles.

Honorary pallbearers will be Coach Benson’s football players from Trinity High School.

Memorials may be sent to the First Baptist Church of Natchez, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, or Boy’s Town.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at