Capt. William Benson Sr., Oxford ferryman, is deadWilliam...


December 24, 1991|By Traci A. Johnson

Capt. William Benson Sr., Oxford ferryman, is dead

William Lindale Benson Sr., Oxford's "ambassador of goodwill" and its ferry boat captain for more than 50 years, died Sunday of a blood infection at the Memorial Hospital in Easton. He was 83.

Known as "Captain Bill," Mr. Benson used his Oxford-Bellevue Ferry to touch more than just the Talbot County shores as he ferried more than 40,000 people across the Tred Avon River from sunup to sunset each year.

Throughout his 36 years as owner, Captain Benson became a familiar sight to the people who used the ferry and was always on hand for a friendly conversation across the wheel for the three-quarter-mile ride across the river.

"Maybe I talk too much," Captain Benson said in a 1981 interview with The Sun, "but people come back to talk some more."

Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the Oxford United Methodist Church in Oxford.

Born in the Ferry Neck area of Royal Oak, Captain Benson was educated in Talbot County public schools. He graduated from the Royal Oak School in the early 1920s after completing eight grades. He attended the Pierce Business School in Philadelphia for a year before returning to work on his parents' farm on the Eastern Shore.

Captain Benson got his introduction to the sea by working on the decks and in the engine rooms of various pleasure yachts operating off the New England coast and Long Island Sound.

On Christmas Day of 1936, he married the former Sara Valliant Newnam of Bellevue and settled on a farm in Deep Neck Point. Not long afterward, they decided farming did not suit either of them.

The Bensons moved to Oxford in 1938 where Captain Benson became owner and operator of the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry, the oldest ferry in continuous operation in the country. Although he officially retired on June 30, 1974, he continued to help on the trips across the river.

Mr. Benson was active in town and county affairs. He served as a town commissioner from 1952 to 1955, and was past president of the Talbot County Firemen's Association.

After his retirement, he served on the Oxford Board of Zoning Appeals and on the Talbot County Tax Assessment Appeals Board.

Mr. Benson was also a member of the Talbot County Historical Society, the Oxford Museum and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. He belonged to Coats Lodge 102, A.F. and A.M. and Centreville Chapter 69 of the Order of the Eastern Star.

A longtime member of Oxford United Methodist Church, Mr. Benson was on the building committee when the current church and parsonage were constructed. He was a member of the church's bible class, and treasurer of the Methodist Men.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, William L. Benson Jr. of Easton; and two half-brothers, Norman J. Stewart of Long Boat Key, Fla., and Raymond P. Stewart of Royal Oak.

Donations may be made to the Oxford United Methodist Church or the Oxford Volunteer Fire Company, Oxford 21654. Services for James D. "Buford" Hill, a retired Baltimore police officer, will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Hurst-Scott Funeral Chapel in Richlands, Va.

Mr. Hill, who was 53, died of a heart attack Saturday at his home in the 4400 block of Washington Street.

The Russell County, Va., native was educated in Virginia public schools and graduated from Richlands High School in 1956. He received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of Baltimore in 1978.

Mr. Hill enlisted in the Army in 1957 and served during the Vietnam War. He was named an Army Vietnam Presidential Honor Guard Veteran during his tour of duty.

Mr. Hill moved to Maryland in 1960 and married the former Maureen M. Bragg on Christmas Eve -- 31 years ago today. He became a Baltimore policeman and was assigned to the Central District.

He is also survived by two daughters, Karen Lynette Hill of Baltimore and Sharon Annette Adams of Sykesville; two brothers, Hurley Hill of Canton, Ohio, and Hubert Hill of Raven, Va.; three sisters, Estey Street of Rowe, Va., and Faye Hubbard and Emily Childress, both of Raven; and a grandson.

Nancy L. Currie

Insurance saleswoman

Services for Nancy L. Currie, an insurance professional in Baltimore for 14 years, will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Oakland Memorial Home at 330 Ramapo Valley Road, Oakland, N.J.

Mrs. Currie, who was 45 and lived in her former hometown of Oakland for the last few months, died at her home Saturday of cancer.

A former employee of both Geico Insurance and Transamerica Insurance Finance, Mrs. Currie moved to Baltimore from Oakland in 1977. She served as an underwriter, worked in the claims and finance departments, and was a member of the Insurance Women of Baltimore.

The former Nancy Swiers returned to New Jersey to live after being diagnosed as having cancer last summer.

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