1963, Benji's First Visit Home after Moving to Hawaii
Benji Bennington
  • 80 years old
  • Date of birth: Aug 17, 1934
  • Place of birth:
    Cleveland, Ohio, United States
  • Date of passing: Aug 30, 2014
  • Place of passing:
    Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States
Celebrate the Life of Benji Bennington

Happy Birthday, Benji!
Today you would have been 81 years old.  

Benji’s Celebration of Life was held on Saturday, October 18th at the East-West Center Burns Hall Gallery

Her ashes were scattered privately on her beloved island of Oahu.

The text of Benji;s eulogy, delivered by her sister Martha Bennington, is located in the website tab above, titled "Her Life"  

 This memorial website is created in memory of Benji Bennington, who passed away on August 30, 2014. Benji had such a bright and out-going personality! She loved people; she loved meeting new people, and she loved bringing people together. But most of all--she loved the East West Center.  She considered every EWC person as a member of her own family. So this is a website for everyone in Benji's huge and world-wide extended family.  Please join us in remembering Benji. Please share with all of us a Benji story, a Benji quote, a Benji photo.

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Nasti Reksodiputro Bachtiar on 17th August 2017

"Benji was part of my extended family. The family had accepted her as my sister and everybody was always happy when she came. She leaves a big hole in my heart."

This tribute was added by Martha Bennington on 30th August 2016

"Benji, it is hard to believe you have been gone for two years as of today!  I think of you so often, and think of things I want to tell you because I know they would make you laugh.  You have the best laugh.  I even miss the favorite stories that you told me over & over & over.  You had a amazing life, dear sister, and I will miss you forever."

This tribute was added by Bren Dahl on 19th August 2016

"I miss Benji and think of her often.  Wish I had visited her in Minnesota."

This tribute was added by Michael Anderson on 12th October 2015

"I was privileged to be a student grantee at the East-West Center during some of its best times -- the mid-to-late 1970s.Benji was in her prime throughout that era, and she always was a wonderful presence who cared deeply about three things -- the student program, Indonesia (and especially its gamelan music), and cultural interchange. I cannot think of just one "Benji story," but I do know for sure she really stood out and made a difference in shaping the Center across several decades."

This tribute was added by Martha Bennington on 17th August 2015

"Happy Birthday, Benji!  I love you and miss you.  I still think of you so often--of things I want to tell you or show you, and places we could go for lunch.  I miss our 3x a week card games too!  I wish we had more time together."

This tribute was added by Reihana Robinson on 22nd December 2014

"E hoa, in this year of your passing I send a light of creativity and courage, a flower of peace and a note of gratitude for your manaakitanga and grace
arohanui na Reihana (MacDonald) Robinson"

This tribute was added by LETTY GESCHWIND on 21st December 2014


This tribute was added by Adam Knowlton-Young on 8th October 2014

"I was a graduate student at the East West Center and at UH from 2002-2004, and worked with Benji, Bill, Lynne, and Pattie, and Michael was just hired!   And Benji was a Grand Dame of sorts, consulting on exhibits, offering her wealth of knowledge and contacts with the arts all over the world to the East West Center.  The Arts Center was part of my ohana and is to this day, and Benji was a big part of that.  Thank you Benji.  Blessings to you and those who love you."

This tribute was added by John Gruber on 3rd October 2014

"Hello, I'm Beverly Bennington Gruber. I'm Paul Bennington's daughter and niece to Martha, Carol and Benji. Aunt Benji was my father's sister. I knew her as a great artist who lived in the tropical paradise Hawaii.
My earliest memories of Aunt Benji was when I learned she had painted the abstract horses on the wall on our living room. To this day I've incorporated her abstract style into my own art. It is a simplistic energy with every horse being captured with a magnificent brush stroke. Benji was a truly inspirational artist.
Through my Aunt Benji the world was opened up to me. My sister Bren went off to college in Hawaii and lived with Aunt Benji. Bren and Aunt Benji kept in constant contact with me and I realized through their adventures there was a whole world outside Portage, Indiana. It was because of them I ventured out to the West coast and met my husband.
Aunt Benji was a scholar, a historian and a host to dignitaries that visited Hawaii yet took the time from her overwhelming schedule to welcome me and my fiancé to Hawaii. She showed us around and I guess her time was well spent as Benji attended and blessed us at our wedding on Maui in 2000.
I'll love my Aunt Benji forever. She has been a profound influence on my life and the nicest, giving, selfless person I've ever known. I love you Aunt Benji! I always will. Beverly"

This tribute was added by Gary Cabot on 29th September 2014

"What Mother Ginger is to the Nutcracker, Benji was to the Gamelan at UH.  She was one of the first people I met when I came to the EWC and UH in 1975, and will always be part of my memories of happy times spent there.   Thank you Benji for sharing yourself with us."

This tribute was added by Laura Nied on 20th September 2014

"I only met Benji once at her sister Martha's home for Christmas but enjoyed her company very much and found her to be a very nice and pleasant lady.  I am Martha's mother in law."

This tribute was added by Brightstar St Croix Valley on 9th September 2014

"What a marvelous tribute to such a fine woman. Benji would be so proud. I hope Benji has a map because I know that she is enjoying traveling all four corners of the world. She was a remarkable and fascinating woman and we will miss her spirit and spark! It was an honor and a privilege to serve her. Safe travels Benji and continue to light the world for us! I love the story of how she landed in Hawaii...next time I run into a cross roads like that, I just might borrow her method. What a great story!- Sini Ross"

This tribute was added by mary Phillips on 7th September 2014

"I have known Benji only indirectly, through family members, but I can attest how very fond they were of her.  They valued her talents and contributions, and I know Benji will be missed from their family circle."

This tribute was added by Ric Trimillos on 6th September 2014

"Benji and I started at the East-West Center  (Honolulu, Hawai'i) in 1962; she was a staff member and I was an eager MA student. Our careers took us "across the street" from one another—she at the EWC and I at the University of Hawai'i. We have shared a lot of travels, adventures, triumphs, and tragedies over some six decades. One of my most unforgettable images of Benji comes from Burma, where she "held court" at the foot of a stupa in Pagan, waiting for us more mobile types (Vicky, Dan, and me) to return from climbing up and down yet another pagoda. She was surrounded by curious little kids who watched solemnly as she sketched these monuments that were their heritage. They crowded around her as she showed and narrated her sketches, a veritable mother hen with a dozen or so little chicks—all fascinated by this big lady who could "take pictures without a camera." Benji was always good at making contact, even without language. She remains a strong presence and a great friend for my personal journey. Me ke aloha poina 'ole, Benj."

This tribute was added by Jaya Roth on 4th September 2014

"My most vivid and pivotal childhood memory of my cousin,Benji happened while attending Carole's wedding at Uncle Hank's and Aunt Lib's iconic home in Canada in the 1950's.Benji made a bouquet of flowers; bluebells, roses, daisies, and subtler wildflowers out of bits of ribbon, twine, and wrapping paper that other people had discarded to decorate her gift to the couple.For me, this "decoration" was the greater gift. I believe that this is my first conscious memory of the trans formative power of art. I am in awe of Benji."

This tribute was added by Linda Bennington on 3rd September 2014

"I'm Benji's niece also - the oldest of her brother Pauls six children.  I remember Benji jetting in and out of O'Hare airport and us picking her up and taking her and her visits to our house - many times with friends from other countries.  She did make us aware that there was life outside of Gary, Indiana - our home town.  Particularly to my sister Bren who went to Hawaii to finish her college education and then like Benji went in to the Peace Corps.  Benji influenced her tremendously.  Rest in peace Benji."

This tribute was added by Bren Dahl on 3rd September 2014

"As Benji's niece, I am so grateful to her for letting me live with her for 3 1/2 years in Honolulu then in Kaneohe, so I could finish my college education at the Univ. of Hawaii.  Benji was so generous, kind and friendly, and I was surrounded by fascinating people and tantalizing Asian food.  Benji sewed dresses for me.  She flew to California 25 years ago and told me I was like a daughter to her.  Her death leaves a big hole in my heart."

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This memorial is administered by:

Martha Bennington
Ric Trimillos


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