On Saturday, December 7, 2019 Paul Douglas Benne, loving husband, father, son, brother and friend passed away at the age of 54.
Paul was born on July 24, 1965 in Kansas City, Missouri to William “Bill” and Veronica Rose (Hellmer) Benne. Paul married his high school sweetheart Christine Lea Green on December 26, 1987. Paul and Christie raised their four incredible children - Brayson, Cale, Gage and Hagan. Paul loved watching his family grow, always capturing seemingly insignificant moments on his video camera, showing us all his great love for his family and his understanding that these small moments were what made life significant. Paul enjoyed riding through the neighborhood carrying Liam, his first grandchild, on his lap. He considered himself blessed to meet Liam and Jane, the children who made him PaPa. He got to marry the love of his life, achieve significant career goals, watch all of his children graduate, and two marry.
Paul grew up in Spring Hill, Kansas, graduating from Spring Hill High School in 1983. His childhood was active, and he loved spending time with his family. Paul and his cousins waterskied, fished, hiked, cliff jumped, lit fireworks and sledded down the KU campanile hill on waxed cardboard refrigerator boxes. After high school, Paul attended pharmacy school at the University of Kansas, joining the army in 1988. Paul became a doctor, earning his degree from the University of Missouri Medical School, and serving in the Army for over 23 years in posts all over the world from Germany to Hawaii, Baltimore, Washington, Kentucky and Colorado. In 2000, Paul attended Johns Hopkins, earning his Masters in Public Health. Paul’s contributions to his work were significant and seemingly everyone knew him on base, but he was a proud father and husband above all else. Paul’s wife reflects on their endless worldwide moves saying, “Paul always made each place a home. We weren’t in Germany for more than 12 hours before Paul had us on a Ubahn headed to a castle.” Paul adored traveling, biking, following KU athletics, and enjoyed Christmas time. Paul and Christie were married during the Christmas season, making it even more special, and his home videos are almost exclusively of Christmas mornings and Christmas school concerts.
Paul’s heart was set on moving to Kansas to be closer to his family. Over the years of moves, Paul’s family enjoyed trips with Paul’s brothers and their families. They raced go-karts in Silver Dollar City, road the dueling dragons ride in Orlando until they were sick, and splashed in the waves in San Diego. Paul instigated these trips, planning them, always being careful to include everyone. Even on their own family trips, Paul planned them all, managing to remain flexible when their trip to South Korea was sidelined when the plane engine failed and their flight was redirected to Alaska. From Alaska, Paul managed to create an unforgettable trip to Hawaii. Paul made traveling with his family a priority, meeting with friends from past military stations, visiting nearly every national park, and spending vacations learning more about the world he loved.
Paul became immersed in the Fort Riley community as well as the Manhattan, Junction City, and Flint Hills Region. He worked as a Public Health Officer and Doctor and contributed in countless ways throughout these communities. Paul retired as a Colonel from the army while stationed at Fort Riley in December of 2015.
Paul was diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease called Multi Symptom Atrophy, Cerebellar Type-C, and in recent years was confined to a wheelchair. Throughout his time, Paul’s spirits never dampened. Paul wrote beautiful stories about his life as his disease progressed. His stories highlight those small, seemingly insignificant moments, reminding us once more of his deep, rich appreciation for every moment of his life and the people that made it special. Paul was and will always be a grounding source of integrity, adventure, and family. ‘So much of life is perspective.’
Paul is survived by his loving wife, Christine of Manhattan, KS, his four children: Brayson and his wife, Katy, of Manhattan, KS, Cale of Fort Worth, Texas, Gage and his wife, Rachel, of Columbia, Maryland and his daughter Hagan of Manhattan, KS. He has two beautiful grandchildren, William and Jane (Brayson and Katy). Paul is also survived by his father, William Benne of Gardner, KS, his brothers Duane of Lenexa, KS and Mark (Kathy) of Wea, KS. He is also survived and loved by many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. Paul was a friend, mentor, colleague, son, brother, father, and grandfather. Paul’s faith was beautifully grounded and he and Christie found strength in their faith of the Catholic Church and their church family of St. Thomas More. Paul was preceded in death by his maternal and paternal grandparents, several aunts and uncles and recently by his loving mother Veronica Rose (Hellmer) on October 3, 2019.
A visitation will take place at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 2900 Kimball Avenue in Manhattan on Wednesday, December 11, from 6 pm to 7pm, followed by a Vigil Service at 7pm.
Mass of the Christian Burial will be held at St Thomas More Catholic Church at 10am on Thursday, December 12, with Father Frank Coady as the Celebrant. Interment with full military honors will be held at 1:30p.m. Thursday December 12 at the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery at Fort Riley.
Memorial Contributions are suggested to Catholic Charities or to Kansas Public Radio. Contributions may be left in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502.
Online condolences may be left through the funeral home website at www.ymlfunerahome.com