William Robert Benedict left us peacefully on January 26th 2018, to resume life in new form, "as a group of cells in the universe," as he liked to say. Bill also honored the Divine in all religions. He was 82 years old.
Born on August 31st, 1935, in Ashland, Kentucky, he spent his formative years in Brookville, Indiana, in a beautiful green valley with high hills and the picturesque Whitewater River. His sense of place was strongly rooted there, along with his loyalty to his kin who remained there. His Appalachian roots supplied a country soundtrack to his life: Johnny Cash and Kenny Rogers were lifelong favorites. His parents struggled through The Great Depression and nurtured Bill's faith in the Democratic Party, which he never ceased to champion.
Bill was a star basketball player for his high school team, The Greyhounds, befitting the culture of southeastern Indiana. His athleticism served him well throughout his life, from basketball, to running, to tennis - he was always a competitor. He felt fortunate to receive an athletic scholarship to Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana - a Quaker school, it re-enforced his values of simplicity and social justice. He liked to refer to is as, "The Harvard of the Midwest."
After graduation from Earlham with a degree in political science, he worked at Oesterlin Treatment Center for adolescents in Springfield, Ohio. During his 10 year tenure there he also acquired a Master's Degree in Social Work from Ohio State University. Later, he came to Wisconsin to work as an administrator for Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, until his retirement in 2003. While there, he developed Eval-U-Treat, a groundbreaking behavioral care evaluation that became a well-known early model for measuring treatment outcomes.
During these seminal years he raised his family in Stoughton, WI, moving to Madison in the mid 90's. Retirement brought new enthusiasms. Always an advocate, he turned his focus to public funding for stem cell research and mental health advocacy, as well as serving on the boards of The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups and on the Governor's Task Force for Mental Health. He wrote frequent editorials on these topics and many more. He facilitated mindfulness classes at The Goodman Community Center, coached basketball at the Salvation Army and was attentive to neighborhood issues, always standing up for the under-served and doing his best to make the world a better place.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, John and Mabel Benedict, his brothers, Justin and Dale Benedict and his sister, Dorida Kirk. He survived by his four children, John Eric Benedict, Columbus, WI, Amy Benedict (Jeff Kosmacher) Poughkeepsie, NY, Andrew Benedict (Antonella) New Paltz, NY, and Sarah Anstaett (David), Middleton, WI as well as 8 grandchildren, Isabella and Sophie Kosmacher, Olivia and Georgia Benedict and Henry, and Ursula Anstaett.
He is also survived by his former wife Patricia Benedict, Middleton, WI, and his longtime partner, Suzanne Bergen, Madison, WI, many relatives in Brookville, IN, and the Cincinnati area, and his beloved dog, Walter.
He has left his footprints behind in all the good he has done, and he will be remembered for his uniqueness; his humor, his loved of family, his loyalty and persistence. His love remains with those of us he loved. May we pass it on.
Donations in Bill's name can be made to Wisconsin Public Television.
A celebration of Bill's life will be held at a later date.