In Memoriam: Henry Benson, WSCPA Past Board Chair

by Paul Carboni | Aug 01, 2016

Henry Benson, former chair of the Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants Board of Directors, passed away on July 3, 2016, with his wife by his side at the age of 97. Henry was the WSCPA’s 44th board chair, serving from 1963 to 1964. Prior to his death, he was the WSCPA’s longest-surviving past board chair.

Henry graduated from the University of Washington in 1941 and, after earning his CPA license, began his career in New York with the firm Haskins & Sells. Henry was the first graduate west of the Mississippi to be hired as a staff accountant for the East Coast. He later returned, transferring to Seattle’s Haskins & Sells office. In 1949 Henry teamed up with C. Edward McLaughlin, CPA, to form the partnership Benson & McLaughlin. By the time Henry retired in 1989, the firm had grown to employ 80 professionals.

Henry’s devotion to the accounting profession was clear. The WSCPA maintained a smaller professional staff in 1963 than it does today, and as a result the board chair often assumed many more day-to-day responsibilities to keep the organization running. Henry accomplished this duty while continuing to build his own firm. Over his nearly five decades in the accounting profession, Henry also served as chairman for the Washington State Board of Accountancy, regional director of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, and on the American Institute of CPAs National Trial Board as well as the first ethics committee for the AICPA enforcement division.

“Henry was a great accountant, good business man, and was very people oriented. He liked accounting and was very good at analyzing businesses in order to help clients make positive changes,” said Norman Swenson, former partner and shareholder at Benson & McLaughlin.

Rich Jones, CEO and President of the WSCPA, said “Henry Benson was a great member of Washington state’s accounting community. He dedicated much of his life to strengthening our accounting organizations, both in the state and across the nation. He will be missed.”

The University of Washington and its Department of Accounting honored Henry in 1989 by naming him that year’s Outstanding Alumnus for his leadership and service to the accounting profession.

At Henry’s request, there will be no formal service. Individuals wishing to send remembrances may donate to Providence Hospice of Seattle Foundation here.

Adapted from an obituary published by the Seattle Times on July 24, 2016.

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