My boss and friend Ron Benson passed away on early Monday morning after a long struggle with cancer and ensuing complications. I'm grateful to have last heard from him by email this past Thursday, and to have spoken to him on the Thursday prior over Skype. We had a nice chat. Although he was speaking from his hospital room, he was in good spirits and sounded lively.
Some very brief remarks: For the nearly ten years I knew Ron, after being brought in by Nick Wrigley to work on The Masters of Cinema Series in early 2006, I was ceaselessly gob-smacked by his individuality, which zig-zagged over the course of years, months, a single given day: one half of a 10-year conversation that found room for more hilarity, warmth, exasperation, agreement and disagreement, football club updates, industry gossip, gut-instinct green-lights and red-lights, and filthy jokes goyishe/yidishe than any collaboration should rightfully anticipate. I will treasure the many trips we made together to do business at the Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, the excellent meals we shared, and the time that friends and I were able to have spent with him and his wife Marion when the couple visited New York. To have witnessed, and often been the recipient of, his extreme loyalty, empathy, generosity, and general kindness: I'll never forget this.
Rest in peace Lord Benson.
The following is the eulogy read at Ron's funeral by his daughters Denise and Ruth, and reprinted at a JustGiving fundraising page set up in Ron's name to help raise awareness and money for his favorite charity, the Teenage Cancer Trust, here.
Ronald, Ron, Ronny, RB, Dad, Grandpa, Bubbie and of course Lord R. Benson born in Bishop Stortford 17 October 1943 was a people person and took his personality into both business and home life. Dad could light up any room and would speak to anyone in any company at any time – and was ‘definitely’ more than happy to have an argument with anybody at any time about anything – but as everybody in this room will agree, Dad often made up, argued some more but managed to maintain friendships over many decades. He was generous in spirit and was at his happiest when he could do things to help people including his dedication to charity work in particular the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Dad was literally a self-made man from beginnings that were not that advantageous. Dad’s parents came into this country as immigrants escaping war and persecution.
From difficult beginnings Dad built a successful career, qualifying as an electrician and then running his own businesses. Always forward thinking and aware of what was happening in the world – after reading an article in the FT, he got very excited and with his passion for film he started up the video rental business (Mr Benson’s Video Collection). He was then one of the first people to enter the mail-order business (Mr Benson’s World of Home Entertainment which later became Bensonsworld), building a successful company working with all the main studios and distributors. Being the forward thinking man he saw ahead and moved on to owning intellectual properties (Eureka Entertainment) whether it be the amazing cult classics or the unseen wonders!
Although Dad’s body was riddled with cancer he put on a brave fight. Right up to the end he was determined to keep working and running his business, every second always on his phone, checking his emails, organising everyone.
Family was always very important to Dad; he would do anything for his wife of 49 years - Marion, children Denise and Ruth, his six grandchildren James, Nicole, Samuel, Matthew, Anthony, Adam and his sister Eva.
Dad was always a strong man both physically and mentally as proved by running a number of London marathons. Whether it was medical science or sheer will power – with only three months to live he managed to keep going for another year to attend and enjoy and dance his way at his Grandson Sam’s Bar Mitzva.
To sum up our Dad – A quote from an email we received yesterday from his consultant:
"It was a privilege to be Ron’s doctor - what a character! I shall never forget him. His humour shone through right to the very end. I will also treasure the copy of iPlot he gave me..."
He will always be remembered in our hearts and will never be forgotten.