Robert Daniel Benell

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Robert Daniel Benell, 95, of Sun City, Ariz., formerly of Kansas City, Mo., died on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. He was born in Surrey, N.D., on May 25, 1919. He was raised on a dairy farm near Surrey and worked in the dairy from an early age. Following graduation from high school he attended the University of Montana, majoring in forestry.

As World War II approached, Bob joined the Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet in 1941, and served until 1946, earning the rank of Major. Following his military service he began a career as a commercial airline pilot, quickly rising to the rank of Captain. He worked for Braniff International Airways for more than 33 years; 10 of those years as a pilot trainer. He was very active in the Airline Pilots Association. Bob was proud to have never taken a day of sick leave during his career. He was confident and fearless, whether flying a plane, riding a horse, driving a car, or walking along the eaves of his house to blow leaves out of the gutter. He jokingly described himself as "often wrong, but never in doubt."

He was an avid hunter and outdoorsman and spent many days hunting pheasant, grouse, and quail with his friends, relatives, and fellow pilots. Beginning in 1972 he bought several farms near Dederick, Mo., where he enjoyed maintaining the farmsteads and improving the land.

He is survived by his son, Robert David (Avalon) Benell, of Surprise, Ariz., and Gunnison, Colo.; daughter, Susan Diane (Kendall) Vickers, of Nevada; grandchildren, Lisa Grego, Ryan Vickers, and David Vickers; and great-grandchildren, Zachary, Dylan, and Reese Grego, Skyler, Jaden and Jacob Vickers. Bob was preceded in death by his parents, D.E. and Helena (Wertz) Benell; his wife, Mariette F. Benell who died in 1984, and wife Doris F. Benell who died in 2013; and all six of his siblings.

A memorial graveside service will be held in Kansas City, at a later date.

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