James O. Benson ’57 was co-founder and co-chairman of the board of PHB Inc. and CEO of Parker White Metal Company in Fairview, Pa., and chairman of the board of Hazard Control Technologies in Fayetteville, Ga. Benson began his career working at Tanner Manufacturing in Erie. In the early 1960s, Benson co-founded Reddog Industries.
After he served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Benson attended Penn State Behrend and then earned his drafting and design technology degree from University Park in 1957.
He was a member of the Laurel Circle, the Mount Nittany Society, the Glenhill Society, the President’s Club, and a lifetime member of the Penn State Alumni Association. As founder and first president of the Penn State Behrend Alumni Society, Benson was active as a Behrend Pioneer. He was named a Penn State Alumni Fellow in 1995.
A longtime supporter of Penn State Behrend, Benson helped launch the college's engineering programs with his philanthropic investments. In recognition of his support, Benson Building, located on the west end of campus, was dedicated in his name in 1996. In 2005, Benson and his wife, Gerda, established the Jim and Gerda Benson Trustee Scholarship to help with the educational costs of promising young engineering students. In the past, Benson had noted that what he valued most about Behrend was the college’s commitment to giving students the knowledge and practical experiences to pursue careers wherever life took them.
Benson passed away April 2017.