Dr. Benson taught briefly at Morris College and Savannah State before he became a biologist for the state of Georgia. He held that position for 18 years before various illnesses -- including bad knees and legs that rendered him wheelchair-bound -- forced an early retirement in 1994.
To Jimetria P. Benson, a daughter who lives in Atlanta, her father was a family trailblazer.
"That's the best word to describe him," she said. "He was the first in his family to go to college, and everybody followed suit after that. He came to the big city and that was a big deal back then. A lot of his brothers, sisters and nephews live here because of him."
Growing up, Ms. Benson remembers her father judging science projects for local public schools. And he always lent a hand when his two daughters competed in school science contests.
"He would explain the scientific method, then let us take over from there," said Ms. Benson, a 1989 graduate of Atlanta's Benjamin Mays High. "He would let us come up with a hypothesis and take it from there. He would be a guide, but not overbearing."
Additional survivors include another daughter, Natasha Benson Pittman of Alpharetta; his mother, Lila Mae Benson of Bamberg, S.C.; four brothers, Harold Benson of Frankfort, Ky.; Lonnie Benson of Blythwood, S.C.; Bobby Benson of Atlanta and Darrell Benson of Columbia, S.C.; three sisters, Betty Jones of Bamberg, S.C.; Vera Randall and Renee Tyler, both of Atlanta; and four grandchildren.