Former Juneau resident and longtime Alaskan George Lee Benesch died March 6, 2009, at home in Anchorage. He was 84.
He was an accomplished fly fisherman, gardener, recreational gold miner and canoeist and loved spending time in the Alaska Outdoors with his kids and grandkids.
He was born January 11, 1925 in Pueblo, Colo., to Maurice and Martha Benesch. He graduated from Pueblo High in 1943 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in March of 1944. He trained as a tail gunner on B29s and flew missions out of Guam and Okinawa towards the end of WWII. After he was honorably discharged in 1946, he returned to Colorado, attended college in Boulder and married his sweetheart, Peggy Higby of Pueblo.
After receiving his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado in 1950, he and Peggy drove up the newly opened Alaska Highway to Haines. He worked as a truck driver during the construction of the Haines Junction road. He and Peggy started a dairy farm in Haines, which they ran until moving to Juneau in 1952.
George worked as an electrical engineer for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from 1952 to 1962. Both he and his wife were involved in Alaska Statehood issues. The family temporarily moved to Eugene, Ore., in 1962 so he could attend law school, and he graduated with his law degree in 1965. They returned to Alaska and he was appointed an Assistant Attorney General.
In Juneau, he was involved in his three son's scouting activities, and was scout master for Troop 12 for several years. During his tenure, Troop 12 went on numerous summer and winter camping trips, including a hike over the Chilkoot Trail and two 450-mile canoe trips down the Yukon River.
In January 1970, he was appointed a transportation commissioner for the Alaska Transportation Commission and the family moved to Anchorage. He stepped down from the post of commissioner and went into private practice, specializing in transportation law in 1972. He also served 10 years as chief hearings officer for the State Transportation Commission. He finally retired from private practice in 1990 to spend more time with his children and grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 39 years, Peggy Benesch, in 1988.
He is survived by his three sons and their spouses, David Benesch, of Anchorage, Dan and Leah Benesch, of Thompson Falls, Mont., and Dudley and Lisa Benesch, of Anchorage; grandchildren, Deven, Michael, Eugene and Katherine; brothers and their wives, Walter and Renate Benesch, of Fairbanks, and Ralph and Eunok Benesch, of Springfield, Va.
A memorial will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, March 20, at the Faith Christian Community Church, 4240 Wisconsin St., in Anchorage with a reception following.
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