Former ASCP President and Forensic Pathology Expert James A. Benz Passes Away
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
James A. Benz, MD, FASCP, who served as the 1994–1995 ASCP President, passed away on Jan. 22, in Carmel, Ind. He was 81 years old. His distinguished career in pathology included serving as the District Medical Examiner in Palm Beach County in Florida, Director of Laboratories and Pathology at Wishard Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis, and on the faculty of his alma mater Indiana University Medical School, Indianapolis.
In 2003, Dr. Benz received the ASCP Israel Davidsohn Award for Distinguished Service. This award honors exemplary ASCP members who have participated significantly in a variety of roles within the Society throughout their careers.
His involvement with ASCP began early. At the urging of Edward Smith, MD, Chief of Pathology at Indiana University Medical Center, Dr. Benz joined ASCP as a resident to continue his education in pathology and laboratory medicine. Later, pathologist Charles S. Petty, MD, asked him to join the ASCP faculty and teach forensic pathology. During his 24 years as an ASCP volunteer, Dr. Benz rose to progressively more responsible positions, including Director of the Council of Forensic Pathology, CheckSample author, Commissioner on Continuing Education, member of the Board of Directors, and, finally, President.
“ASCP has indeed provided me an interesting and meaningful life,” said Dr. Benz in his acceptance speech of the Israel Davidsohn Award. “How enjoyable it was to meet, become friends with, teach, and share good tunes with the nation’s leading educators.”
As ASCP President, Dr. Benz focused on continuing education and presided over a significant increase in membership and workshop attendance. During his tenure, CD-ROMs were first introduced to the ASCP educational product line. Dr. Benz also emphasized advocacy and recognition of the profession.
He did not follow a traditional pathologist’s career path. After receiving his medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine in 1955, Dr. Benz completed residencies in anatomic and clinical pathology, as well as forensic pathology at Indiana University. He served as an instructor with the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, the Indiana State Police Department, and the Indiana University School of Law. Additionally, Dr. Benz served in the U.S. Air Force from 1962 to 1967.
Outside of pathology, he constructed intricate jigsaw puzzles, played bridge, and watched “Big Ten” Indiana University basketball.
A memorial service is being held at 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10, at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 86th St. West, Indianapolis. Dr. Benz is survived by his wife, Sonja; sons, Karl, John, and Michael; seven grandchildren; and brother, Paul.