Benson Family endows scholarship at Northwestern

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Benson Family endows scholarship at Northwestern

NWOSU Foundation Article
March 25, 2009

Benson Family
The Benson family at Don and Donna’s home in Alva, from left, Bryce Benson, Sherryce Benson, Sherrie Benson, Donna Benson, Chrystal Benson, Shannon Rose, Brenda Rose and Keith Rose. 
A great debater. Sports fanatic. Family man. Billy Parkenfarker? All of these can be attributed to one man, Don Benson. In his 70 years on this earth, he did the things he loved and loved the people that surrounded him, none more than his family. So it was only right that the family he loved establish a scholarship in his honor. The Don and Donna Benson Family Scholarship was established for students attending Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

The Benson family has given $25,000 to endow a scholarship reserved for continuing students studying in the fields of business, accounting, or political science. The award requires a minimum grade point average of 2.5 and can cover any of the recipient’s university related expenses. The scholarship committee will make the selection for the scholarship.

When Don passed away in 2004, Don’s wife, their two children, and their families decided to start a scholarship and make it available for students at Alva High School (AHS) to attend college. Since that time, the family decided to move the scholarship from AHS to Northwestern. They feel the scholarship can make a bigger impact on the surrounding communities and better serve the students of Northwestern.

Sherrie Benson, Don’s daughter-in-law, said that not many people knew how generous he was because he always did so quietly. He wanted to help people because they needed it, not for the recognition. She also said that he would have done the same for them.

“It’s what he would have wanted,” Sherrie said. “He would want to make Northwestern better and give someone an opportunity to be successful.”

Don graduated from Cherokee High School in 1951 and married his high school sweetheart, Donna Garrett, in 1954. After serving four years in the U.S. Army he was honorably discharged and attended Northwestern for a short period before finishing out his education at the University of Oklahoma. He graduated in 1959 with a bachelor of business administration in accounting and graduated from the University of Oklahoma School of Law in 1961.

Don’s daughter Brenda Rose, his brother Ben, and several cousins also attended Northwestern. His son Bryce and his wife, Sherrie, met at Northwestern and graduated in 1985 and 1986 respectively. Currently, all of his granddaughters, Sherryce and Chrystal Benson and Shannon Rose, are attending Northwestern which prompted Donna to call Northwestern the “family university”.

Don was a huge fan and supporter of Northwestern athletics and could be seen at every Ranger basketball game. Hunting, traveling, skiing and spending time with his family were things he really enjoyed. In fact, his alter-ego, Billy Parkenfarker, is a product of those many ski trips to Colorado.

Brenda said that he expected the very best from his children and grandchildren.

“He always knew when report cards came out,” Chrystal said. “We never wanted him to be disappointed so we always tried for A’s”.

“He taught us values,” Sherryce said. “He taught us to work hard and was a big believer of getting back on the horse if we got bucked off.”

Don Benson was a hard working man with strong moral character who knew the importance of having fun and embracing those he loved. His family embodies his integrity and though he is gone, still tries to uphold the things he taught them. Their hope is that this scholarship can help as many people as needed, just like Don would have done.

“Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet Don. After hearing the stories from his family, it was clearly my loss,” Skeeter Bird, Northwestern Foundation C.E.O. said. “We are honored that his family has chosen to perpetuate his legacy of generosity with this wonderful scholarship at Northwestern.”