Former principal of Veronica E. Connor Middle School, Bruce Frederick Benson, died last Friday, June 9, at the age of 60.
He was a loving husband, father, brother, teacher, friend and pastor to many.
Bruce began his career as a band director at the West Valley Central School District. During his time at West Valley, he became actively involved in community activities, civic events, and directed his local church choir.
For the next 13 years, Bruce served as the director of the North Collins Junior and Senior High School bands, where he lead numerous ensembles that participated in concert band, parade band, jazz ensemble, color guard and band pageants across the northeastern United States. These bands were comprised of roughly 60 percent of the student population and received numerous awards, many of which are still on display in the community.
Following his time at North Collins, Bruce served as a secondary principal at Forestville Central School in northern Chautauqua County. He created a school-within-a-school atmosphere and developed a middle school schedule and unique programs for middle school students in a building that housed grades 6-12.
For the next 16 years, from 1995 to 2011, Bruce served as the principal of Connor Middle School on Grand Island. There he led the school into the next century and was instrumental in Connor Middle School being named one of the top 10 middle schools in Western New York. For his dedication to the community as a teacher and community leader, the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce recognized him as the Educator of the Year in 2012.
Bruce graduated from high school in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and then attended Mansfield University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in music education. Following graduation from Mansfield, Bruce earned his Master of Music at the University at Buffalo and later received his Certificate of Advanced Study in School Administration from SUNY Fredonia.
After retiring from public education in 2011, Bruce attended United Theological Seminary in Dayton Ohio and eventually became a local licensed pastor at the Colden United Methodist Church, where he continued to serve the people of Colden and the community of Western New York.
Bruce is survived by his loving wife Jeanette; their son, Christopher and his wife Maria; Bruce's older brother Robert, his wife Joann and their daughters Emily and Molly.
A memorial service was held June 13 at the Eden United Methodist Church, 2820 E. Church St. Eden.
Flowers gratefully declined. Memorials may be made to Bread of Life Outreach Center, 8745 Supervisor Ave., Colden, NY 14033.