McLemoreStrong
Genealogy
Strong - McLemore History and Ancestry
First Name:  Last Name: 
[Advanced Search]  [Surnames]
Robert Fletcher Benkelman

Robert Fletcher Benkelman

Male 1926 - 2006  (79 years)

Personal Information    |    Media    |    Sources    |    Event Map    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Robert Fletcher Benkelman  [1, 2
    Born 1 Oct 1926  Sandusky, Sanilac County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3
    Gender Male 
    Died 22 Sep 2006  Saginaw County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Buried 26 Sep 2006  Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • Bob Benkelman had the following rememberances about his parents early life, and his own birth.

      ""You'll be ready to deliver around September first", the Doctor advised in early 1926. Dad and Mother had lost a boy named Robert to pneumonia in 1921. He had lived to be three months old.

      Mother was known for worrying. If there was nothing to worry about, she worred about that. Isabel was the daughter of Captain Archie Fletcher, a Great Lakes ship's captain and Isabelle Patterson, a beautiful , yet neurotic Canadian. Isabel's life was completely entwined with that of her identical twin, who died at the age of three.

      The summer of 1926 in Sandusky, Michigan was an especially hot one. In late August, huge with this person and frenzied, she finally discarded her maternity clothes. Threw them in the trash is what she did and confined her daily attire to a loose bathrobe. She called Aunt Vera, her older brothers wife, affectionately known as "Ooftie" to come stay with her during the final days. "Ooftie" was an RN.

      Perhaps reluctant to leave a warm comfortable place, I didn't arrive until October first. At a healthy eleven pounds, ten ounces, Mother's worries could focus elsewhere. I was born at home, what doctor attended, I don't ever recall learning. Mother was nearly 31 years old, Dad was a month away from 28. They had a home beside the Studebaker garage that they owned and operated since the early 20's. Dad was a mechanic, salesman and manager. Mother made regular trips to South Bend, Indiana on the train to drive back with new Studebakers.

      The long awaited arrival of Robert Fletcher Benkelman could not have brought enough happiness to offset what was to happen next. However Dad was in an auto smash-up which broke his back and in ensuing months almost killed him. The Studebaker garage was completely destroyed by fire along with their home located directly beside it. They lost everything except the clothes they were wearing and there was no insurance. Nobody talked much about it over the years and some photographs of the disaster complete my information.

      It was "start-over" time and on October 23, 1928 Brother, William Donald Benkelman weighed in at a more normal density. They were now in Royal Oak, Michigan. Father was equipment maintenance foreman for the E. B Schwaderer Construction Company. Roads and Highways in Michigan were being paved with concrete and Cass City native, Schwaderer was paving a big share of them."

      The Striffler-Benkelman Broadcast, Vol. 7, September 4, 1944, noted that Robert Benkelman was an apprentice reserve of the V-12 units, U.S.N.R., Mt. Pleasant.

      The September 6, 1948 issue of the STRIFFLER BENKELMAN BROADCAST, noted that Bob and his brother Bill were Cruise Directors, Bob on the South American and Bill on the North American.

      The September 1, 1952 issue of the same periodical, reported that he was announcing from Radio Station WBCM, Bay City, and resided with his family at 501 N. Sheridan. The 1962 issue of the Broadcast reported he had opened a Radio Station, W.K.Y.O, 1360 k.c., in Caro, Michigan.  In Volume 25, dated September 6, 1965, it was reported that "The Robert Benkelman family purchased the G.A. Striffler estate appropriatedly in Cass City's Centennial year. They moved on August 1, 1965."

      Bob's obituary follows:

      Robert F. Benkelman, who worked to develop radio broadcasting in the Thumb, established WKYO in Caro and helped many young local announcers launch their careers, died Friday at St. Mary's Medical Center in Saginaw from complications of pulmonary fibrosis. He was 79. Born in Sandusky on Oct. 1, 1926 to Harold L. and Isabel (Fletcher) Benkelman, he was raised in Cass City, served in the U.S. Navy and graduated from Michigan State with a communications degree in 1950. He married Lorraine B. Smith September 30, 1950, in Kalamazoo. After working as an announcer at WFYC in Alma, WILS in Lansing and WBCM in Bay City, Bob and Chuck Anthony formed a group of investors to start the Water Wonderland Broadcasting Company in the mid-1950s and went on the air as WWBC. He later sold his interest in WWBC and founded the Tuscola Broadcasting Company with James McCoy, going on the air as WKYO 1360 in Caro in 1962. He started WKYO-FM 104.9 in the 1980's, later changing the call letters to WIDL, which now broadcasts on 92.1. Mr. B,' as he called himself on the air, did every job at his stations, from custodial work to writing ad spots to overall management. He felt that small-town radio should be local in nature, giving the public the news of the community, from lost animals to a trip to the Thumb by the president of the U.S. As small-town radio stations are also starting places for young announcers, many of the successful radio and TV people in this area were helped and taught by Bob at WKYO and WIDL. He and his company belonged to the National Association of Broadcasters, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, the Radio Advertising Bureau, the Caro Chamber of Commerce and the Cass City Chamber of Commerce. A veteran of the U. S. Navy (1944-1946), Bob in 1999 volunteered to help restore the SS American Victory Mariners Memorial and Museum in Tampa, Florida. He was a published writer, with several articles in the local press in Florida. Bob loved working on and operating all manner of transportation - planes, boats and automobiles. During the 1970s, he obtained his pilot's license and owned several planes. He also was an avid boater and amateur auto mechanic. He took physical fitness seriously, regularly lifting weights and doing four-mile fast-walks -- and rejecting offers of car rides from passing friends. He was a member of the Rotary Club, the Caro Moose Lodge, the Caseville Eagles Club and the Elks Club of Ruskin, Florida. He was a life member of the Michigan State University Alumni Association. He is survived by his wife, Lorraine; daughters: Carole Benkelman and her husband Kevin Larke of St. Johns, Catherine and her husband Charles Brooks of Sheridan, Arkansas, Susan Benkelman and her husband Ken Fireman of Bethesda, Maryland; grandchildren Jason Tetreau, Carrie Tetreau, Andrew Larke, Keith Brooks, Steven (Amber) Brooks, Eric Brooks, Catherine Fireman, Alexandra Fireman; and great granddaughter, Faith Brooks. He is preceded in death by his brother, William Benkelman. A graveside service will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, September 26 with Virginia Leipprandt, Jim Joslin and Ken Fireman officiating. Interment will take place in Elkland Township Cemetery. Family and friends may share memories, prayers and stories with the family at www.kranzfuneralhome.com. Memorials may be made to the Rawson Memorial Library, 6495 Pine St., Cass City, MI 48726. Arrangements by Kranz Funeral Home, Cass City, Michigan Debra L. Kranz (989) 872-2195
    Person ID I837  Strong Family Tree
    Last Modified 17 Aug 2014 

    Father Harold "Sime" Leroy Benkelman,   b. 27 Nov 1897, St. Francis, Cheyenne County, Kansas Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Apr 1981, Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 83 years) 
    Mother Isabel Lizzie Fletcher,   b. 25 Oct 1895, Bad Axe, Huron County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 3 Nov 1993, Caro, Tuscola County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 98 years) 
    Married 14 Sep 1918  Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 4
    • Cass City Chronicle
      Vol. 14, No. 22.
      Friday, September 27, 1918

      Fletcher-Benkelman

      Miss Isabelle Fletcher, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Archie Fletcher of Bad Axe and Harold Benkelman, elder son of Mr. and Mrs. B. F. Benkelman, were united in marriage Saturday evening, Sept. 14, by Rev. Henderson, formerly a pastor of the bride. The ceremony took place at the Presbyterian manse on Grand River avenue in Detroit. Following the ceremony the bridal couple were entertained at dinner at the Hotel Statier by Mr. and Mrs. Russell Newbold, of Philadelphia, cousins of the bride.

      Mr. and Mrs. Benkelman arrived in Cass City on Tuesday after visiting with relatives and friends in Detroit and other cities. \\

      (Transcribed by Melinda McLemore, Strong, Summer 2007)
    Family ID F33  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Lorraine Bessie "Smitty" Smith,   b. 12 Feb 1931, Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Jun 2012, Caseville, Huron County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years) 
    Married 30 Sep 1950  Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County, Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 6
    • Cass City Chronicle
      October 6, 1950
      Page 6

      Miss Smith and Robert Benkelman Wedding Saturday

      Miss Lorraine Smith of Kalamazoo became the bride of Robert F. Benkelman Saturday evening at eight o'clock in a ceremony at the First Congregational Church at Kalamazoo. Dr. William A. Keith, church pastor, conducted the rites.

      Mrs. Benkelman, who wore a Sophie original of ice blue satin, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clarence W. Smith of Cambridge Drive, Kalamazoo. The groom is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold L. Benkelman of Cass City. Among 200 guests who attended the ceremony were 35 relatives and friends of the groom from Cass City.

      The maid of honor was Miss Carmen Magnuson of Lapeer. Miss Carole Ann Smith, the bride's sister, and Miss Marjorie Stern were bridesmaids. James McCoy of Port Austin served as best man. The ushers were Charles Auten, Kenneth Price and Dale Kettlewell, all of Cass City.

      Satin rickrack braid trimmed the mandarin collar and hipline of the bride's gown. The dress was cut with an off-the-shoulder neckline, short sleeves, a sheer yoke and a long train. An ice-blue half hat secured the three quarter length bridal veil. She carried a shower bouquet of white carnations and ivy.

      The attendants' pink and white bouquets were similar to the bride's. The maid of honor wore a pink gown with a lace bodice, a bouffant marquisette satin stole. The skirt and a bridesmaids' dresses were pastel blue. The candlelit church was decorated with white chrysanthemums. gladioli and palms. Miss Shirley Janssen, of Rockford, Ill., a Michigan State College student, was voca1 soloist and Mrs. Lincoln Dupon played the organ selections.

      Following the reception in the parlors of the church, the couple left for a short trip. Mrs. Benkelman wore a black ensemble trimmed in black velvet, black velvet accessories and a gold-colored topper.

      The couple will live in Lansing. The bride, a graduate of State High School in Kalamazoo, attended Michigan State College. Her husband, who was graduated from Cass City High School, received a B.A. degree in speech, dramatics and radio from MSC.

      (Transcribed by Melinda McLemore Strong, Fall 2007)

      Bob and Smitty purchased the former home of George Albert Striffler in Cass City when their daughters were young. His mother was a Benkelman and father a Striffler. And he left an attic full of "rubbish" mainly old clothing and photos, letters, and news clippings. Bob and Smitty scanned and shared many of the photos and letters with interested family members, and with BonnieMargaret Jacobs when she was reseaching her 1981 book about the Benkelman family. She jokingly referred to them as the "keepers of the gold lined laundry basket."
    Children 
     1. Living
     2. Living
     3. Living
    Photos
    Benkelman, Robert F. wedding to Lorraine Smith
    Benkelman, Robert F. wedding to Lorraine Smith
    Miss Lorraine Smith of Kalamazoo became the bride of Robert F. Benkelman Saturday evening, September 30, 1950, at eight o'clock in a ceremony at the First Congregational Church at Kalamazoo. The couple will live in Lansing. The bride, a graduate of State High School in Kalamazoo, attended Michigan State College. Her husband, who was graduated from Cass City High School, received a B.A. degree in speech, dramatics and radio from MSC.


    l to r: Clarence and Cora Smith, Lorraine Smith and Robert Benkelman, Isabel and Harold "Sime" Benkelman
    Striffler Home (George and Cora)
    Striffler Home (George and Cora)
    The Cass City Home of George and Cora Striffler. George was a prominent merchant in the early years of the village. The home was later owned by the family of Robert and Lorraine Benkelman. In a 1915 article from HISTORY OF MICHIGAN, it was noted that "Mr. Striffler has recently completed in Cass City a handsome and thoroughly modern house of twelve rooms, the same being the family home and one of the most attractive in the village, even as it is one of the most hospitable,a center of much of the social activity of the community. An appreciable part of the timber utilized in the erection of this building was taken from land owned by Mr. Striffler and is of growth that has been made since the disastrous forest fires which swept this section in 1871. Mr. Striffler himself found satisfaction in assisting in the sawing of the logs into the lumber and shingles for his fine new residence."
    Last Modified 9 Jun 2013 
    Family ID F611  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 1 Oct 1926 - Sandusky, Sanilac County, Michigan Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 30 Sep 1950 - Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County, Michigan Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 22 Sep 2006 - Saginaw County, Michigan Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - 26 Sep 2006 - Elkland Township Cemetery, Cass City, Tuscola County, Michigan Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.
    At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.
    Benkelman, Bonnie-Margaret, Mary Barbara and Robert Fletcher, mid 1940's
    Benkelman, Bonnie-Margaret, Mary Barbara and Robert Fletcher, mid 1940's
    Bonnie and Barbara Benkelman from Colorado with their cousin, Bob Benkelman of Cass City, mid 1940's, at the Annual Striffler-Benkelman Reunion or possibly in Caseville near Lake Huron. The lady to their right, in the print dress, appears to be Lois Benkelman Pease.
    Benkelman, Mary Barbara, Robert and Bonnie-Margaret
    Benkelman, Mary Barbara, Robert and Bonnie-Margaret
    Cousin's at the Striffler-Benkelman Reunion, probably taken in the mid 1940's
    _Benkelman, Robert Fletcher
    _Benkelman, Robert Fletcher
    Husband of Lorraine Smith
    B. 1926 D. 2006 Michigan
    At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.
    Benkelman, Robert Fletcher ca 1995, with his wife Lorraine (Smith)
    Benkelman, Robert Fletcher ca 1995, with his wife Lorraine (Smith)
    Bob and Smitty at Christmas, ca 1995
    Benkelman, BonnieMargaret ca 1998 with cousins
    Benkelman, BonnieMargaret ca 1998 with cousins
    l to r: Lorraine Smith "Smitty" Benkelman, Bonnie (Benkelman) McLemore: BonnieMargaret (Benkelman)Jacobs; Dot (Ball) Williams; June (Gilbert) Striffler with her husband Russell; and Bob Benkelman, Smitty's husband. BonnieMargaret, who spent many years researching the Benkelman family, arranged a 1998 reunion of cousins in at her Florida home, in order to compare family photos and stories.
    Benkelman, Robert Fletcher ca 2004, Lake Powell, Arizona
    Benkelman, Robert Fletcher ca 2004, Lake Powell, Arizona
    Husband of Lorraine B. Smith
    1926-2006, Michigan
    Bob was raised in Cass City, served in the U.S. Navy and graduated from Michigan State with a communications degree in 1950. He worked to develop radio broadcasting in the Thumb of Michigan and established WKYO in Caro.

    Headstones
    Benkelman, Robert Fletcher
    Benkelman, Robert Fletcher

  • Sources 
    1. [S469] Williams, Dorothy Ball--Family Researcher (dotwfl@comcast.net) 3331 Southwest Villa Place, Palm City, FL 34990 ; based in part on BonnieMargaret Benkelman Jacob's unpublished typescript, THE FAMILY BENKELMAN.

    2. [S333] Ancestry.com - U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-Current [database online], (Ancestry.com. Social Security Death Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011. Original data: Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration Death Master File contains information on millions of deceased individuals with United States social security numbers whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration. Birth years for the individuals listed range from 1875 to last year. Information in these records includes name, birth date, death date, and last known residence.).

    3. [S492] Peck, Edward Arthur THE TEN BENKELMANS WHO EMIGRATED TO AMERICA Ca. 1850s AND CERTAIN OF THEIR DESCENDANTS, 1982.

    4. [S653] Cass City Chronicle, P.O. Box 115, Cass City, Michigan 48726, Published continously since 1899, archived from 1899 through 2005 at http://newspapers.rawson.lib.mi.us/chronicle/, Friday, September 27, 1918 (Reliability: 3).

    5. [S595] Striffler-Benkelman Broadcast, (Family Publication, published sporadically to record family milestones in connection with the annual Striffler-Benkelman Family Reunions, with Vol. 1, Number 1, published Sept. 7, 1936. Issues on file at the Rawson Memorial Library in Cass City, Michigan include Vol. 5 (1941), Vol. 7 (1944) and Volumes 8 (1945) through Vol. 28 (1968). Issues published from 1961 through 1964 were not assigned volume numbers, and 1963 appears to be missing. Xeroxes of the existing issues were also made by Melinda McLemore Strong in 2007. According to a article published by the Cass City Chronicle on August 6, 1981, commemorating the Fiftieth and Final Striffler-Benkelman Reunion, the final issue of the STRIFFLER-BENKELMAN BROADCAST appears to have been Volume 28, published in 1968.), Volume 14, September 3, 1951. (Reliability: 3).

    6. [S653] Cass City Chronicle, P.O. Box 115, Cass City, Michigan 48726, Published continously since 1899, archived from 1899 through 2005 at http://newspapers.rawson.lib.mi.us/chronicle/, October 6, 1950 (Reliability: 3).