James Elbert “Jim” Benning, aged 79, of Plainfield IN passed away 4 July 2021. He was born 20 May 1942 at the Good Samaritan Hospital Cincinnati Ohio. Son of Clyde Oliver & Evelyn Anna (Barnard) Benning. He attended, Bright Elementary and on his birthday in 1960, his class of 60 were the first to graduate from North Dearborn High School in Dearborn County IN. He graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1964.
James E. Benning, Vice President of Power Operations retired 1 Jan 1995 from PSI Energy. He joined the company in 1966 as an Engineer at corporate offices. He was promoted to Relay Engineer in 1966 & to System Operations Assistant in 1968. In 1972 he became System Relay Engineer, then in 1973 to Protection & Communication Manager. In 1978 he became Planning Engineer, then System Planning Manger in 1979. In 1981, he was then promoted to Executive Director Corporate Services, then Executive Director Fossil Engineering in 1982. He became Executive Director of Power Operations Support in 1983, Executive Director Power System Engineering/Operations in 1989 then in 1990 Vice President of Power System Engineering/Operations. Finally in 1992, he became Vice President of Power Operations. All positions at the corporate offices. He retired in 1995 after 30 years with a celebratory trip to Hawaii & a cruise on the S.S. Constitution. This ship and the S.S. Independence were the only ships to travel with an American Flag. The ship was featured on several episodes of the comedy show “I Love Lucy.” Grace Kelly also sailed aboard the ship from New York to Monaco for her wedding to Prince Rainier in 1956. Jim has been on several modern ships.
Jim was a member of Toastmaster Club; Optimist International and the Plainfield Elks.
He joined with Mary’s interests into genealogy & attended conferences across the U.S. Jim’s great-grandfather, Johann Heinrich Buhning came from Heringhausen Hannover in 1843 to Cincinnati, OH.
Jim enjoyed a wonderfully active life. One summer he biked from Plainfield IN to his Dad’s home in Lawrenceburg IN, a distance of more than 100 miles & came back to Plainfield the same day. He participated in the Hilly Hundred in Bloomington IN in ’88, ’89, & ’90. He also completed the Indy 500 Mini Marathon three times. He was a member of a bowling team for 28 years. He had a high game of 290 & a high series of 745. In 1981 he took flying lessons & was co-owner of a 1964 Piper Cherokee airplane. He has taken a hot air balloon trip and also visited the Albuquerque Balloon festival in NM. Jim enjoyed golfing and in October 2010, he got a hole in one at #8 at the Quail Creek Golf Course I Pittsboro IN.
He enjoyed auto racing, one of his favorite drivers was Tony Stewart. Jim attended 43 Indy 500 races. For his 60th birthday he rode the two-seat tandem Indy race car at the Motor Speedway.
Jim had traveled to all 50 states, been through the Panama Canal, traveled to several parts of Canada, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Holland, Japan and Germany. He as been twice to Ireland (’96 & ’98). He was successful with driving on the opposite side of the road, and he even kissed the Blarney Stone while there. While in Costa Rica he enjoyed the Canopy Tour of nine platforms 100 feet from the jungle floor. In 1996, he traveled by mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon & back. It’s been the most talked about adventure along with some horrendous, but memorable camping trips with his family.
In emergencies, he was always calm. In 1979, he saved a man’s life by performing CPR. Also, when Michelle (daughter) had an awful bike accident, he acted quickly.
He was generous to his children and offered to help in funding college for his grandchildren.
Jim was a blood donor; his goal was to reach 20 gallons & in March 2021 his total was 209 pints; over 26 gallons. If you would like to honor Jim, please donate blood or give to Versiti Blood Bank.
Jim was married 56 years to Mary Catherine Frakes. They married on the 23rd of December 1964 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Indianapolis. She survives. They have lived at their home in Plainfield since 1966. He is also survived by his son, Mark Douglas Benning and daughter, Michelle Benning and eight grandchildren: Sarah, Nate, Lizzie, Jarod and Conor Benning and Hannah, Lucas and Sam Bryan; a pet Conure named Reeko; as well as two sisters and a brother. Also, surviving are “the guys” that meet for coffee/breakfast Monday mornings.
Burial will be at 1:00 p.m. Thursday, July 8, 2021 in the Gibson Cemetery in Bright Indiana, Dearborn County where his parents are buried.
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