DERRY — Grant Benson, Jr. once told the Derry News his family’s lumber and hardware business in town offered a good life for many people.
“It’s been tremendous,” Benson said in a 2005 interview. “There aren’t a lot of businesses like this around, no four generations. It’s been a good life and I can’t complain.”
Friends and family are now remembering Benson following his death Feb. 23 at the age of 84.
The man who once said he lived within a one-mile radius of Derry for almost his entire life credited his family legacy and strong community ties as his own success story through the years.
Benson was heavily involved in not only his business, but also in the dealings and life of his town.
The Benson story began in Derry in 1913 when George Washington Benson, Grant Jr.’s grandfather, operated his small store with a simple vision — a dream to run his own business and offer lumber and coal to the community and surrounding towns.
Years later, Grant Jr. took his own position in the business. His three sons, Scott, Brad and Grant III are all involved in keeping the family name continuing on.
Brad Benson, currently chairman of the Derry Town Council, said his father often had the outward appearance of being stern and demanding, but was actually extremely caring and generous.
“My brothers and I are amazed at how much he accomplished,” he said. “He was a firm believer of how important it is to make a difference in the community and the lives of all that worked for him. He always pushed Grant, Scott and I to get involved and help.”
In addition to his strong work ethic, the elder Benson’s list of community involvement was long.
The U.S. Air Force veteran helped begin the local Chamber of Commerce with other Derry merchants in the living room of his home. He was named the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year in 1965.