The Chronicle -

Norman Wallace Benton

April 21, 1923 – Oct. 4, 2019

 

October 17, 2019

Norman Wallace Benton

Norman Wallace Benton, known to many of his friends as Norm, departed for his heavenly home on Oct. 4, 2019 and now is in the presence of the Lord.

Norm was born on April 21, 1923, in Redmond, Oregon, to Earle and Clara (Woods) Benton, the youngest of their seven children. The family moved from Redmond to Creswell, Oregon, in 1927, and Norman was a resident of Lane County for 86 years before he moved to Redmond in 2013.

Norman graduated from Creswell High School in 1940. While still in high school, he became a member of the First Baptist Church of Eugene. He regularly attended church and was a familiar face as an usher, and for a time as the clerk of the church. He was a member of First Baptist Church of Eugene for 81 years.

After the outbreak of World War II, he worked in defense industries in Bremerton, Washington, and San Diego. Drafted in 1943, he was assigned to the U.S. Army Air Corps and was trained to be a B-29 bomber ground crew mechanic in California, Texas, Illinois, Washington, New Mexico, and Kansas. He was assigned to the 870th Bomb Squadron which arrived in Saipan in October 1944.

After the war in the Pacific ended, he returned to the U.S. by way of Iwo Jima and was discharged at Fort Lewis in time to reach home in Creswell by Christmas Eve, 1945.

Two years later he went to work as a rural mail carrier in the Creswell-Pleasant Hill area, a job he held from 1947 until 1979. He prided himself on his ability to work quickly and efficiently and his familiarity with the people on his route. He became an avid sports fan, especially following the University of Oregon's basketball and track teams.

His military service had taken him many places and as a civilian he continued to be a traveler, first making annual trips "back east" to get a new car, but soon beginning to set his sights on further destinations.

His life changed on Labor Day 1948 when he reached the summit of his first mountain, the South Sister. From this first ascent, he was hooked on mountain climbing and began tackling other peaks in the Cascades in Oregon and Washington, and his beloved Canadian Rockies. By the mid-1950s he was actively mentoring young men and women in the skills and disciplines of hiking and climbing.

He then expanded the world of his climbing. In 1964 he climbed Denali in Alaska along with several other members of the Seattle Mountaineers. In 1965 he climbed the three Mexican volcanoes (Orizaba, Popo and Ixty). Over the following decades he visited all seven continents and reached the summits of the tallest mountains on five of them: Denali in North America; Aconcagua in South America, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe and Kosciusko in Australia.

He climbed with the Eugene Obsidians, the Seattle Mountaineers and the Iowa Mountaineers. In 1967 he was part of the American-Japanese Joint Expedition to the Wrangall Range in Alaska that made a first ascent of Mt. Kobe, at 14,000 feet, the highest unclimbed peak in Alaska.

Articles about Norman's ascents of Denali, Mt. Kobe, and other peaks throughout the world appeared in local newspapers.

In his later years, he continued to take treks and simply travel throughout the world. Altogether he visited more than 80 countries in his lifetime.

Early in his climbing years, Norman developed an interest in photography and always traveled with a camera in hand, thus capturing places and experiences. Many remember his slideshows back in the time before digital photography. Norman also wrote of his experiences and those accounts were gathered into four volumes entitled "The Adventures of Norman Benton."

He is survived by 12 nieces and nephews living in Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan and North Carolina.

 
 

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