He was known as a man of opinion who tackled civic causes with passion.
Chino Hills resident and retired teacher Brett Benson, 72, died Monday after battling health problems over the last few years.
He would have turned 73 on Aug. 1.
His last public appearance was the dedication ceremony in January for the military monument he helped establish as a member of the veterans group of the Chino Hills 55+ Club, of which he was a charter member and treasurer.
Mr. Benson, a Vietnam-era Army veteran, was wheeled to the monument by his son Brandon to untie the ribbon that revealed the six-sided granite obelisk at the Chino Hills Community Center.
He was inducted into the Chino Valley school district’s Hall of Fame last year for his leadership in the district and the Chino Hills community where he lived since 1986.
He retired from a 32-year teaching career in 2010 after teaching every grade from kindergarten to 12, except for third grade.
Mr. Benson was a founding teacher and coordinator of the GATE program for gifted students and started the independent study program at Chino Hills High that was later moved to the Alternative Education Center.
He initiated the “Chino Hills Smokefree in 93” campaign and convinced the school board to adopt a similar policy.
He worked with troubled youth for three years on the Chino Hills’ Youth Accountability Board. He was named a volunteer of the month for the city in 2008.
He served on the Chino Hills Day at the Fair Committee with his wife Jeanette for several years.
He also served on the San Bernardino County Senior Affairs Commission, was involved in Hope for the Hills and the citizens oversight committee for school facilities bonds.
The Bensons raised three sons and enjoyed their grandchildren.
Mr. Benson often said the secret to a happy marriage is to apologize a lot and to buy “just because” gifts.
The Chino Hills City Council adjourned Tuesday’s meeting in his memory after sharing “Brett Benson” stories.
“Brett was as much a community leader as anybody I’ve known,” said Councilman Peter Rogers. “He was always willing to give his time and skills. He could be cantankerous and that’s what we loved about him, but he could be a teddy bear also.”