Zachary David Benson


Zachary David Benson


Zachary Benson
Zachary Benson

Zachary David Benson, 25, died Thursday September 18, 2008 in Seattle Children’s Hospital. He lost the valiant fight against leukemia.

Zachary was a young man with many talents and passions. His first love was chemistry, and he graduated in May from UM-Missoula with a chemistry degree. He was a true renaissance man; a gifted poet, a philosopher, a writer, an accomplished singer, and a pianist. To know him was truly a gift, and the world is a lesser place for his absence.

He is survived by his parents, Jeff and Debi, of Colstrip; his sister, Amber Benson of Lander, WY; his brother, Spenser and his nephew, Landyn of Colstrip; his grandparents, Mary & Bill Jergler of West Middlesex, PA; Belle Benson of Billings; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

Visitation will be 5-8pm Thursday at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary. Funeral services will be 11am Friday at the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, 2929 Belvedere Dr., with interment to follow at Yellowstone Valley Memorial Park.


Zach was one of the most gifted and talented people that I have had the chance of getting to know. His brilliance and spirit full of life will live on with everyone who had the chance to meet him. A young man so full of happiness and laughter, almost so much that he would float instead of walk. Zach had touched so many people in his short time on earth, he will be remembered by many. I have many memories with Zach from school and work, all of which bring a smile to my face. The world has lost a brilliant mind, but his spirit will live on with all that were able to meet him. My deepest thoughts and prayers go to the Benson family.

I will always remember Zach. He was my daughter Amanda’s best friend growing up. They were both so different than the rest of the kids that lived in Colstrip. I have so many good memories of this kid. He used to spend the night with Amanda when we still lived in Colstrip and we would stay up late and watch old movies. He bought me my first copy of My Fair Lady. I still have it. Its a little worn out but I will always keep it. He and Amanda used to sign songs and make up games and act out plays. He was Amanda’s life line during so many bad times in Colstrip for us. And for many years after. The twins remember him babysitting them with Amanda and Jessica D. Geri really doesn’t remember to much about him but still loves to hear the stories. I have so so many memories of times with Zach. They were all memorable!! Just know this he will forever be in the hearts of a family in New Mexico. Love you Zachynunu aka ishkabible Shannon (Morris) Hanson Heather Morris Brittny Morris Geri Morris Jorja Rea Hanson
I will love you always

Zach worked with us at the city of Billings water laboratory in 2002. He was such a bright and exceptional individual. Today I found some studies he did for our lab. They were tests for alkalinity at different sites around town. This test was very boring and monotonous, but Zach always had a smile on his face and continued with the tasks assigned to him. One day he said to me “Nanci, when I finish college, I’m going to develop a way to do alkalinities so they are not so boring!” I was so looking forward to that. My heart goes out to the family. Zach had a lot going for him and this world had a lot more going for them if only he could have continued on. My blessings.
With all my sympathy.
Nanci Holloway
City of Billings water lab.

Zach was a charming, happy person who0 made everyone smile. He had the gift of personality. Through several of his high school years, he spent a lot of time and the Montana Science Institute where he learned to love chemistry under the supervision of “Grandpa Bake”. Everyone loved Zach.
We will make a donation to the Montana Science Institute (now the Montana Learning Center) in his memory.
Gil and Marilyn Alexander

Jeff, Debi and family,

We were so sorry to hear about Zach. We can not begin to realize your loss or how to begin to offer our sympathies. Just know that we will keep you and your family in our prayers. Cherish your memories of that remarkable young man you were so lucky to have known and loved.
Reid and Lila Kukowski

I was shocked and saddened to hear of your loss. Zack was a wonderful person loved and respected by all who knew him. I always remember him happy and smiling. Amber & Spenser, loosing a brother is heartbreaking please hold on to the memories and help your parents to greave and to cope, it takes time and tears and we may never understand the lords plan but know Zach’s pain is over and he will never leave your hearts.
Christopher Kajin
(Friend from Forsyth)

Zach was always a joyous and uplifting person, even through his many months of treatment. He was a wonderful person to know and work with. I am so sorry that he did not win this long battle.
Reggie Spaulding-friend from UM

Zac worked in my lab at UM for two years on a water chemistry (pH) project, an area of research that he truly loved. He was an exceptional chemist and an inspirational person. Zac had very high expectations for his work in my lab. He was protective of his data and was very careful not to present his results during our group meetings unless he was absolutely sure they were good quality. Although his illness prevented him from completing the project, only a few loose ends remain and I am committed to publishing his results, with Zac as a posthumous co-author. Zac kept his keen sense of humor and warm laugh during his struggles. I can hear him laughing now in the lab outside of my office. I’m sorry I cannot attend the service but my condolences to Zac’s family and all who knew him.
Mike DeGrandpre

I have so many memories with Zach. We became friends in kindergarten. Throughout the years we drifted apart at times, but we always came together again. We kept in touch even throughout college. I will always regret not visiting more. He brightened my life in so many ways. He was genuine and kind. He possessed such amazing character. He was a brilliant scholar and artist. He had so much to offer the world, but time was not on his side. The world is truly at a loss. I am at a loss. I miss him so much already. I have never had such a true friend. I hope he knew how loved he was and will always be. My heart goes out to his family.
Jessica Schugardt


I knew Zach for a long time. We went to elementary, middle and high school together. We even attended the same college. I did not know him as well as some, but he did always give me a pleasant hello and brief synopsis on how things were going when our paths crossed in Missoula. I was shocked and saddened to hear about his passing, and want to give my sincerest condolences to his family and others who loved him. I will remember him as a driven person with a passion for the arts and a fervent love of knowledge.
Peace be with you now Zach,
Christopher Gunnare

I was extremely shocked to hear this sorrowful news from Mike. Both Zach and I have worked seamlessly on the pH project when I was at UM. He is always a nice, charming and popular chemist to work with. Wish all the blessings to his family and friends. All the wonderful time with him in DeGrandpre lab will be truly missed.
Dr. Sugar from China

Dear Jeff, Debi and family,
I was so saddened to hear of your loss. My deepest sympathy to you. God Bless Kathie Anderson

Dear Debi and Family,
I just want you to know that our prayers are with you in this time of sorrow. Remember the happy times and cherish the last memories you have with Zach. He would want you to be strong and remember that there is no longer pain in his body……Zach, THANKS for taking mine and Ed’s wedding pictures….I will cherish them like your family will cherish your spirit.
Ed, Kathy, and Kortney LaDuke

Zach was a best friend and roommate of my daughter, Micajah Llewellyn, for the last few years during college. Zach would frequently come to our house to play cards. Not many young people think: Yeah, let’s go to your mom’s house and play cards. My husband, Pat, and I would be so tickled that Zach would come with Micajah and hang out. We got to fondly think of him as one of our kids. I even bossed him around a little like a mother would, telling him to put his stuff away somewhere as we got ready for the graduation party. We knew he was facing a terrible battle, but it never really registers until after the battle is lost. We grieve with his family, and we grieve with his very close companions. We admire the strength of Zach, of his parents during the last weeks, and we admire the selflessness of our daughter as she stayed by the side of them all during his last hospital stay. Zach’s easy smile is etched in our memory, and the card table brings unexpected sudden memories of him. We will miss him. His parents and family are in our prayers and thoughts. With love and fondness, Sue and Pat Erickson

I am so sorry for your loss.
Zach was only with us a short time at the Missoula waste water plant but he sure was a hard worker and would get me laughing with some of his stories of school and home life, I even saw him give his best at his other job at Hastings. Zach came to work one day with his water pump leaking very quickly on to he ground and he was so upset that he would be stranded without his car, well I assured him all would be ok and I had replaced his pump before his shift was done, he offered me free movie rentals I thanked him and told him I had a soft spot in my heart for those who were trying to do the best for themselves and hoping to change the world to be a more loving place. He smiled and was happy to get moving to his other job and he did say he was happy to see people that were genuinely kind. Zach was a very kind man and this world will be at a loss without him but I’m sure that in Gods loving arms he will suffer no longer and will be there to greet us all when we return home as well.
Always a friend
John Tuero

I am deeply saddened by hearing of Zach’s untimely passing. My sincere and warmest condolences go to the family of Zach. I first met Zach our freshmen year of college. I was immediately taken aback by his exuberant and light-hearted personality. His personal magnetism is what drew me to him. I have many memories of running into Zach while walking around UM campus, or when he would stop in to visit me at Campus Quick Copy. He was definitely an individual who did not fit the benchmark status quo—and I strongly admire him for that! Zach touched many lives and he will live on forever in those of us who were fortunate enough to know him. Rest in peace, Zach. Bob Bizjak

We are saddened to hear of your loss. Zach always had a smile on his face and a song in his heart. He always greeted me with a smile or a hello. I am glad he touched so many lives during his short time here on earth. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Jeff and Debbie and family
Margaret and Bill Dickson
Hyde Park, Utah

Zack was in my class during one of the most challenging and creative parts of my career. Always a new view, always a challenge to look at the milieu from a different plane, this is what Zack offered. I hope now he knows how much he gave me and those around him with those challenges. I think of him often. Ideas live beyond the person so in more then one sense he lives on. It is an honor to know him.
Rick Rivard

Dear Debi, Jeff, Amber, Spenser, and family,
I am so saddened for you and for the world that Zach is no longer here…
I don’t quite have the words to express what I want to say. But I knew when I first met him in Colstrip that he was an extraordinary young man. I remember his laughter and that smile…wow…I remember how hard life was for him at times, and how he tried to express that part of him through his poetry in high school. I am not surprised at the great things he did in his short lifetime, nor at the great number of people whose lives he touched.
I believe that Zach came into this world to reflect both the darkness and the light he saw here…through his own sweet Light…
I send you blessings and I wish you peace… talk to him whenever you feel him near…he is still with you…
Beverly Rivard
Wrangell, AK

Dear Debi, Jeff, Amber, & Spenser,
We are so sorry to hear about Zach. We are so glad we got to meet him over Christmas, he was the highlight and life of that night. His smile lit up the room and was so wonderful to be around and we loved his jokes. Our hearts and prayers go out to you and your family, he will be truly missed.
All our love to you,
Roger, Mia, Jenni, Heaven, Courtnee & Crystine Z.

I worked with Zach in Missoula at The Montana Kaimin. He was such a wonderful, funny and intelligent man. He always amazed me how fast he could read a book, every other day he would have a new one! My Deepest sympathy goes out to his family and closest friends. Zach was a truly unique spirit, He will be missed greatly here, at the Montana Kaimin. God Bless, Cassi Kutzler and the Business office of the Montana Kaimin

Debi, Jeff, Amber & Spenser,
Words can not describe the loss you are feeling. Debi, I know you are strong and have a faith that is strong, and God will be by your side through this. I did not know Zach except through letters and pictures from you over the years, but he sounds like a wonderful young man. You can be so proud that so many loved him and respected him. And God promises us that we will have a new body, and Zach is in no pain now. You will have him in your hearts forever and will see him again one day. Wish I could be there to give you a big hug…love you bunches.
Cheryl & family in KY

Jeff, Debbie, and family,
I am sorry about your loss. I remember Zach and the last thing we did together. We had a group of youth go to Salt Lake for a temple trip. He was great to have with us. I’m sure he was an amazing man.
Marci Smith
Logan UT

Jeff, Debbie and the family
Sorry for your loss of Zach at this time of your life’s. His gifts, treasures, success and achievements that he had and continue to do through those who he has touched and inspired go forth with encouragement and strength. Prayer and thoughts are with you and your family at time and moment.

Deb, Jeff & family,
Our hearts are heavy with your loss. Zack was loved and respected by so many. Know that you will see him again. You are in our thoughts and prayers, and wish we could be there to hold you.
Harry & Diane, PA

Jeff, Debi, Amber, and Spenser,
I am so very grateful that I was able to be there through it all. You will all always have a place in my heart and my home. I love you guys and you are in my prayers and I will forever love your son.
Micajah Llewellyn

One of my favorite memories of Zach was his laughter. It was truly unique. I met Zach during my freshman year at the University of Montana. We were both on the same floor of Knowles Hall. Over the course of both fall and spring semesters we became friends and made many common friends together. Everyone who knew Zach was truly lucky to have known him, he may have touched the lives of everyone differently but anyone who knew him would agree that he lived life to the fullest and could find happiness in any situation. My sincere sympathies go out to his family for such a great loss. Zach will be dearly missed by everyone who knew him. –Herbert Ahl

Dear Benson family- I am so lucky to have gotten to know and care for Zach in Missoula at St. Pat’s Hospital. We became friends in the hospital, and that carried out into the rest of life. I am lucky to have met Spenser, whom Zach spoke so highly of, when he visited Missoula. Zach was such a wonderful man, wise and caring; so intelligent! We whiled away so many long hospital hours, talking about music, movies, and current events. He put up such a good fight, sometimes too good- it seemed the cancer wasn’t a bother to him. his manta being “I can handle a little chemo!” His resolve and attitude I will always remember. He had many admirers at St. Pat’s hospital- we all send out our most sincere condolences to the Benson family through this toughest of times. Missoula was lucky to have him as long as we did. You all are in my prayers.
Anne Wright, RN, Oncology nurse, 5 North, St. Pat’s Hospital, Missoula MT

We were so sorry to hear this news. But, we also glory in the faith that Zach is in a much better place and we will join him there in the love of Christ. To all of you left at home we send prayers of strength and healing. As your memories of Zach live on, so will the influence that he had on all he touched during his life.
God bless you from your friends in Kentucky, Carol and “Festus” Wicker

Debbie, Jeff, Amber, and Spenser,
I just found out about Zach’s passing and I am truly sorry for your loss. I attended school with amber and zach and enjoyed their company and have many memories that I will cherish. I will always remember Zach’s smile that could brighten a room and your heart.
Jennifer Stokes
Laurel MT

I have been working on my scrapbook from high school and i had a few picture of Zach from our speech and drama days. I just wanted to find him on MySpace and send him an e-mail when i found this. i feel so sad. He went to prom with my best friend Andrea, twice. this is a poem he gave me when we were hanging out.
take a moment
and a breath
grasp all that
you are
in your hands
and throw it
all away
for once
be full of love
and wonder
and forget
who you are
take the step
the jump, the leap
and land among the stars
for we are truly
meant to fly.

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