Allen B. Benshoff, a retired member of The Sun's sports department, died yesterday at his home in Lansingburgh, N.Y., following a lengthy illness.
Mr. Benshoff, who was 54, had ended a 15-year career on the sports copy desk of The Sun about three years ago, and subsequently moved to New York, where he was married to the Rev. Jane Hormes, formerly of Baltimore.
In his last year at The Sun, Mr. Benshoff was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease), which forced his early retirement in 1991. His condition worsened in recent months.
"He had a passion for justice, a fairness to the people we don't see, the ones society passes by," said Herbert L. Valentine, executive presbyter of Baltimore Presbytery (of the Presbyterian Church). "We got to be good friends through his service on the presbytery's Peace and Justice Committee.
"He didn't just talk about it, either; he put his body out there. We made one trip to El Salvador where we came under machine gun fire from that country's army. He was concerned with Latin American affairs and made at least one visit to Guatemala.
"His journalism background came through in the things he wrote on these issues, too. He had clarity and a sensitive style. At the same time he was very comfortable with who and where he was, and that's a wonderful thing to be able to say about a person. Most people never get there."
Seymour Smith, retired assistant sports editor of The Sun, said that Mr. Benshoff made the switch from being a sports writer to handling a variety of inside jobs when he came to the paper.
"He was a real professional, one who took on those countless tasks that the public never sees, and did them well," Mr. Smith said.
"I knew I could throw anything at him under the pressure of a deadline and he'd produce. You always got a first-class effort from him. At the same time, he was the kind of person you would want to have for a friend."
Born in Johnstown, Pa., Mr. Benshoff was a graduate of Grove City (Pa.) High School and Indiana University.
His newspaper career included positions as sports editor of papers in Portland, Ind., and Lancaster,Pa., before he moved to The Sun as a member of its sports copy desk in 1976.
Following his retirement and marriage, he moved to Troy, N.Y., and then to neighboring Lansingburgh, where his wife had been called as pastor. He was an elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Lansingburgh, and a member of the Albany Presbytery's Peace and Justice Committee.
Survivors, in addition to his wife, include two daughters from a previous marriage, Dawn Lichtenberg of Glen Rock, Pa., and Kelly Benshoff of Stamford, Conn.; a sister, Ruth Barber of Herndon, Va.; three grandchildren; his stepmother, Charlotte Benshoff of Fredonia, Pa.; two stepchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
A service will be conducted tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the First Presbyterian Church of Lansingburgh, and a memorial service will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the First and Franklin Presbyterian Church.
Interment will be in the Dulaney Memorial Gardens, 200 East Padonia Road, Timonium.
Memorial contributions may be made to the A.L.S. Center at St. Peter's Hospital, 315 South Manning Blvd., Albany, N.Y. 12208.