LeRoy A. Benfield, 90, of Perkasie, the last male link to Bucks County's historic C.E. Benfield flour mill, died Tuesday, May 21, of congestive heart failure at Doylestown Hospital.
A Perkasie native, Mr. Benfield went to work as a high school student in the family's four-story feed and flour mill in South Perkasie.
Built in 1795 by James N. Savage, the mill was powered by water from Pleasant Creek, and was later converted by the Benfields to steam and finally electric power.
Mr. Benfield's grandfather Claude Eugene Benfield bought the mill in 1919; it ground flour into the 1950s, when it became primarily a feed mill, according to MillPictures.com, a historical website focusing on mills and covered bridges.
Mr. Benfield's daughter Linda J. Benfield-Grass said that with its signature silos, the mill was a landmark in the community. Its specialty was the finely ground flour needed to bake cakes and cookies.
Mr. Benfield, a vice president, operated the business with his older brother, Harold, until retiring in 1978.
After much discussion, the mill was sold that year to a developer who turned it into condominiums. A proviso was that some of the exterior remain intact so "it still looked like a mill," Mr. Benfield's daughter said.
Harold Benfield died 15 years ago, so with Mr. Benfield's death, an era comes to a close. "My father," Benfield-Grass said, "was the only remaining son of the mill owner. He was the last of that legacy."
To read more about the mill and view photos, visit http://millpictures.com/mills.php?millid=56
Mr. Benfield was a 1940 graduate of Sell-Perk High School in Perkasie.
"He was always part of Perkasie," his daughter said.
Mr. Benfield served with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II as a PT boat torpedoman and .50-caliber gunner. He received an honorable discharge in 1955 from the Navy Reserve.
After 1978, Mr. Benfield worked a kiln, processing tile for the former American Olean Tile Co. in Lansdale.
Later, he was a paid physical-therapy aide at Holy Redeemer Hospital in Huntingdon Valley for 20 years until retiring at 85.
During the 1970s, he served on the board of directors of the Perkasie Borough Authority, which oversaw water, sewer, and building expansion.
He was a longtime member of Calvary Church of Souderton.
He enjoyed keeping dogs, gardening, vacationing, and spending time with his family.
His favorite dog breeds were miniature schnauzers and boxers, his daughter said.
He was husband of the former Joyce M. Bergstresser.
The two celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Feb. 26.
Surviving, along with his wife and daughter, are sons Brent E., Barry, Bruce, and Craig W.; another daughter, Lisa Adelman; 10 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and a sister. He was preceded in death by a son; his brother; and three sisters, one in infancy.
The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 28, at Calvary Church of Souderton, 820 Route 113, Souderton. Friends may call from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Interment will follow in Huffs Church Union Cemetery, Barto, Pa.
Donations may be made to the Bucks County SPCA, Box 277, Lahaska, Pa. 18931, or to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Greater Delaware Valley Chapter, 225 City Ave., Suite 104, Bala Cynwyd, Pa. 19004.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.suessfuneralhome.net.