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Robert A. BenkeserFebruary 16, 1920 ~ February 14, 2017 (age 96)
Robert ("Bob") Anthony Benkeser passed away, surrounded by family, at University Place, West Lafayette IN on February 14, 2017. He was preceded in death by his wife, Abigail (“Abbie”), in 2016. He was 96 years old. Bob was born to loving parents Carl and Teresa (Koller) Benkeser in Cincinnati OH on February 16, 1920. He was their only child. Bob received his B.S. degree from Xavier University in 1942, his M.S. from the University of Detroit in 1944, and a Ph.D. from Iowa State University in Ames, IA in 1947 where he met his future wife, Abigail, who was working on her M.S. degree in mathematical statistics. Abbie and Bob were married on October 19, 1946 at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Abbie and Bob moved to West Lafayette, IN in 1946 when Bob joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry at Purdue University. Bob came to Purdue as an assistant professor of chemistry and remained in the department until 1989, retiring as a Hovde Distinguished Service Professor. His research was in the area of organo-silicon chemistry, and he is known for the Benkeser Reduction Reaction that has been leveraged in industry chemical manufacturing processes. He served as head of the department from 1974-1978. Bob received numerous awards for excellence in teaching and research over his 43-year career at Purdue. Bob and Abbie had five children: eldest Carol Anne Benkeser Luebke and husband Richard Luebke of Sunriver, OR; Robert Gerard Benkeser and wife Carol of Westlake Village, CA; Paul Joseph Benkeser and wife Peggy of Atlanta, GA; Donald Edward Benkeser and wife Chris of Bowie, MD; and Kenneth James Benkeser and wife Christina of Lake Wylie, SC. Bob was blessed with 12 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. Bob introduced his children to the sport of fishing and used the experience to relax during his younger years, often in northern Minnesota with a fishing pole in hand. He also enjoyed maintaining his cars and following his favorite baseball team – the Cincinnati Reds. Bob always enjoyed the outdoors and in later years took pride in tending to his lawn. While Bob was dedicated to his work and kept in contact with many of his former graduate students, he also supported Christian spiritual pursuits jointly with Abbie. Bob and Abbie were founding members of the Blessed Sacrament Church of West Lafayette, IN and worked in support of the Lafayette Catholic School System and contributed to numerous charities. From 2000-2015, he volunteered in the medical library at St Elizabeth Central as a member of the Franciscan Health Lafayette Auxiliary where he helped the local doctors conduct research on new developments in medicine and healthcare. Bob’s interest or concern for money extended no further than his wish that he not go broke. He lived simply and saw the dignity of man in all. A visitation will be held on Thursday, February 23rd from 5 pm until 7 pm at Hahn-Groeber Funeral Home, 1104 Columbia Street., Lafayette, IN. A funeral mass will be held at 10:30 am Friday, February 24th at Blessed Sacrament Church, 2224 Sacramento Drive, West Lafayette IN. His good friend Fr. Samuel Kalu will be officiating. Burial will follow at the St. Mary's Cemetery in Lafayette, IN. A post-funeral reception will be held at the Purdue Memorial Union, where Abbie and Bob first lived when they arrived in West Lafayette. Light snacks and drinks will be served for family and friends in room 118 from 2 pm to 5 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Lafayette Urban Ministry (www.lumserve.org). Memories may be posted online at www.hahngroeberfuneralhome.com.