Capt. Cecil M.S. Benson, Jr. ’46
Cecil M.S. Benson Jr., of Kennebunkport died peacefully Aug. 11, 2018, in Kennebunk. He was born July 14, 1926, in Biddeford, the first of three children born to Cecil and Isabel (Landry) Benson.
In 1944, Cecil graduated from Kennebunkport High School and in 1946 was part of the fifth class to graduate from Maine Maritime Academy, earning his third mate’s license in the Merchant Marines and a commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve. After sailing ships with American Export Lines and United Fruit Company, he was called to active duty in 1954 and served as Navigator and Operations Officer on Sixth Fleet oilers operating in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, rising to the rank of full lieutenant.
In 1958, after his service with the Navy and attending University of Maine – Orono, Cecil returned to the sea, making the shipping industry his career for the next 25 years. In that span of time he rose in rank from third mate to master, with extensive experience on break bulk cargo vessels, fishing/factory/freezer ships, tankers, container ships, gas turbine powered carriers, and nuclear propelled ships.
In 1984, Cecil retired to his home on Paddy Creek in Cape Porpoise, next to the house where his mother had grown up, and he dedicated much of his time to projects that combined his love of history, the sea, and his community. Cecil’s efforts as a board member and volunteer led to improvements to the Atlantic Hall and the Arundel Cemetery, and to a re-creation of the Benson blacksmith shop for the Kennebunkport Historical Society. He was also active in the Maine Maritime Academy Alumni Association, Boston and Portland Marine Societies, Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, Arundel Lodge #76, Arundel Yacht Club, and Old Goats Club. Cecil was especially pleased when the Trust restored the Clement Clark Boathouse, where he had spent so much time as a boy. Throughout retirement, he was an avid sailor, competing in the Boon Island Race well into his 80s.
Cecil was predeceased by his beloved wife of 59 years, Ann Copenhaver Benson. He is survived by his children: Cathy Wayland and her husband Rich of Nashville, Tenn., Robert Benson and his wife Susan of Arundel, Laura Parsons and her husband Brad of Walpole, Mass.; his four grandsons Isaac Parsons, Scott Benson, Chris Benson and Evan Parsons; and his two sisters, Maryjane Benson of Port Byron, N.Y., and Susan Benson of Wakefield, R.I.
A celebration of Cecil’s life will be held on Sept. 9, 2018, at 1 p.m. at South Congregational Church, 2 North Street, Kennebunkport. A private burial will be in the Arundel Cemetery.
Arrangements are in care of Bibber Memorial Chapel, Kennebunk.
To share a memory or leave a message of condolence, please visit Cecil’s Book of Memories Page at www.bibberfuneral.com.
Arrangements are in care of Bibber Memorial Chapel, 67 Summer St, Kennebunk.