John L. Benn Sr., 93, civil engineer

John L. Benn Sr.
John L. Benn Sr.
Posted: January 29, 2014

John L. Benn Sr., 93, of Media, a civil engineer and world-class tennis player, died Sunday, Jan. 12, of an infection at St. Andrews Estates North in Boca Raton, Fla., where he had lived for the last two decades.

Born in Birmingham, England, he immigrated with his mother and older brother to Toronto, Ontario, to join their father. Later the family moved to New York City.

As a boy. Mr. Benn excelled at ice hockey, golf, and tennis. He attended public schools in New York.

At Brown University, he majored in civil engineering, and competed on the swimming, diving, and tennis teams. He was the ranking singles player and captain of the tennis team in his junior and senior years.

From 1942 to 1946, Mr. Benn served in the Army during World War II, and was deployed to Paris, where he worked as a topographical draftsman.

"Despite living in a tent during the war, he was somehow able to fit in occasional tennis matches at Le Stade Roland Garros," the famed tennis stadium in Paris, his family said in a testimonial. "It shows you how much he loved tennis."

Mr. Benn worked for Turner Construction Co. for 45 years, supervising the construction of skyscrapers, hospitals, and manufacturing plants up and down the Eastern Seaboard. He had offices in New York, Chicago, Louisville, Ky., and, finally, in the 1950s, in Philadelphia, where he was chief purchasing agent on building projects.

After retiring at 65, he acted as a consultant for Turner on the completion of the A.I. du Pont Hospital in Wilmington. He and his family lived in Media until retiring to Florida 20 years ago.

Mr. Benn devoted much of his time to tennis, traveling nationally and internationally.

He played in many U.S. Tennis Association national championships. placing first seven times, second nine times, and third six times.

In 2001, he represented the United States in the International Tennis Federation world championships in Australia, and won the doubles title in the super senior division. He played tennis in Florida until age 91.

Surviving are his wife of 71 years, the former Helen Hovland; son John Jr.; daughters Peggy Morphesis, Betsy Woodrow, Deborah, and Lisa Costigan; seven grandchildren: and nine great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held Sunday, Jan. 26. Mr. Benn donated his body to science.


bcook@phillynews.com

610-313-8102

 

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