Benn Gibson

Benn Gibson, 80, of Winfield, died Wednesday, July 29, 2020, at Cumbernauld Village.

A private graveside service will be held at Highland Cemetery, with arrangements by Shelley Family Funeral Home. Celebrate Benn’s life with a contribution to the Food Pantry of Winfield, which he long supported.

The son of Richard and Betty Gibson, Benn grew up in Winfield. His love for music was evident at an early age. During his high school years he and his twin brother, Don, assembled a pipe organ in their family’s garage. Both of them devoted years to organ study.

After two years at Southwestern College, Benn went on to graduate from the Oberlin Conservatory, majoring in organ performance. He subsequently earned master’s and doctoral degrees at Northwestern University. While in graduate school, he toured as organist with the Robert Shaw Chorale, presenting complete performances of Handel’s Messiah in 30 American cities.

Benn taught at the University of Georgia, Oberlin Conservatory and Bennett College, and for several years he chaired the music department and led the choir at Hiram College. He was an accomplished musician, scholar and teacher. 

Benn returned to Winfield in 1977, joining Southwestern as associate dean. He was vice president for college services at the time of his retirement from the college in 2002.

A skilled computer programmer, Benn taught courses at Southwestern and St. John’s colleges, and consulted for a number of Winfield businesses as they adopted computerized record keeping. For several years he helped Philip Kelley to develop research materials for the Wedgestone Press publication of the Browning Correspondence.

Benn loved reading, travel, art, architecture, Colorado, and especially his family and Winfield.

His parents, his brother, Don Phillip Gibson, and sister, Janie Lewis, all of Winfield, preceded him in death.

Benn is survived by his lifelong friend James Leland, whom he married in 2015; his sister, Judy Burke, of Stratham, N.H.; brother-in-law, James Lewis, of Austin, Texas; sister and brother-in-law, Jeanne and John Exline, of Minneapolis, Minn.; four nieces; and five nephews.

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