In 1996, Mr. Benson’s wife, Revella (Sholiton) Benson, who worked for the United Federation of Teachers, was murdered at the doorstep of their home in the Windsor Terrace section of Brooklyn in a robbery. The culprit was never caught. Mr. Benson installed a granite and marble marker in the front garden that read, “May her killer rot in hell.”
“We were married 50 years,” he told The New York Times in 2000. “Her life for a time revolved around the house. Me?” he added in a self-mocking way, “I was trying to liberate humanity.”
In addition to their daughter Ellen, an emergency room doctor, Mr. Benson is survived by a son, Larry, who was a deputy chief of the New York City Fire Department. After his wife died, Mr. Benson lived with his partner, Lucy Dames, who died in 2014. He is also survived by her children, Tamar and Lisa Dames.
In 2015, Mr. Benson married Cherril Neckles-Benson. She, too, survives him, along with her children, Avellena McLean, Lerone Neckles-Bleasdille and Leonie Neckles-Shaw; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
In 2014, as he approached 100, Mr. Benson prepared his own obituary, writing in the third person: “At the age of 60, after learning that those with a college degree had higher lifetime earnings, he got a B.A. in labor relations from the Empire State College; it didn’t help.”
In the obituary he viewed even his mortality through the prism of activism.
“Herman Benson waged a long, courageous, effective campaign against Old Age,” he wrote. “He seemed on the verge of success; but at the age of ??, just before the final battle, he died.”
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