Tribute

My friend, Roger

I met him at a fundraiser for the Masthouse in 2002.  A giant man in jeans and leather vest outbid everyone for a German chocolate cake.  I don’t remember the final bid, but he paid an exorbitant amount for that cake.  We didn’t know it then, but it was vintage Roger Benson, supporting a cause he believed in.

Roger soon retired as a medical doctor in Chicago and moved to a home near Woodstock.  We were immediate friends and in 2004 he became a board member of Off Square Music.  He loved to introduce performers and was an avid supporter of our early concerts.   His knowledge of folk music and performers was phenomenal, and he was always excited to discover a new artist.  I never met anyone who appreciated music more. 

Roger was with me when the idea of an open mic at the newly constructed Stage Left Café was born.  “It is a great idea,” he instantly commented and his support never flagged.  

I also admired Roger for his work as a doctor.   He was a fine diagnostician.   A mutual friend was struggling with a medical problem, going from doctor to doctor without success.  I mentioned it to Roger and a few weeks later, he handed me a work up to give to our friend.  It was a perfect diagnosis.  No fee, no fuss; just Roger Benson helping out where he could. 

Since his passing, I continue to meet people who knew Roger, and each one has a story to tell.  He helped this one get medical care, he helped that one with a loan, he was an ardent supporter of their organization.  He had so many friends.

I have never known a more generous man, and we lost him way too soon.

Keith Johnson, Off Square Music