Legal community mourns two losses


by Cynthia Price

Two members of the Grand Rapids legal community passed away in the last week, both leaving important legacies.

The Hon. Robert A. Benson, who lived from June 13, 1930 to June 30, 2015, brought a keen legal mind to his years on the bench. The Nebraska native went to Jesuit schools and the University of Notre Dame, where he played football and met the woman who was to be his wife until her death in 2014, Mary (Cook).

After service in the Marine Corps he worked as a banker, including at Old Kent Bank. After his graduation from Wayne State University Law School in 1961, he returned to Grand Rapids and was in private practice until his appointment to the Circuit Court in 1980 by Gov. William Milliken; he was a serious, scholarly judge whose decisions were occasionally ahead of their time. He was re-elected to the bench until his official retirement in 2000, and until 2013 he served as a visiting judge in many West Michigan courts.

The State Bar of Michigan gave him a Champion of Justice Award in 2009, and in 2014, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Justice Foundation of West Michigan

He is survived by five children: Margaret, Meegan, Curt, and Sarah; and by ten grandchildren.

His obituary says, “Bob credited the Jesuits for teaching him how to think, the Marines for teaching him how to be a man and, most of all, his wife Mary for helping him through life.”

Those wishing to honor Judge Benson’s memory may make contributions to St. Thomas the Apostle Church.

We are deeply saddened to learn that Ingrid Scott-Weekley has passed away after a long battle with cancer.

The community also mourns the death of Ingrid Scott-Weekley, who had an illustrious and influential career as the Equal Opportunity Director for the City of Grand Rapids. She retired from the City in 2012 after serving as Administrative Services Manager for the last couple of her 23 years with the City.

Prior to that, she worked at Legal Aid of West Michigan, at Grand Rapids Community College (then called Junior College) as Assistant Director for Job Placement, and at Grand Valley State University as Affirmative Action Director.

She was born in California and went to the University of California Irvine. She started out there as a teacher, and also taught in Grand Rapids after she moved here. She continued to be an instructor at Grand Rapids Community College, which gave her its Giant Among Giants Award in 2013.

Her community involvement was broad, and resulted in her also receiving The Floyd Skinner Justice Award and being named as one of Grand Rapids Business Journal's 50 most influential women in West Michigan.

Memorial arrangements had not been announced at press time.