Stephen H. Benedict

It is with great sadness, the family of Dr. Stephen H. Benedict, announce his passing. He was a beloved father, husband, and educator, who devoted his life to the world of science.

Steve was born on January 28, 1947, in Eastern Kentucky to Steve & Virginia (Hays) Benedict. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kentucky, and was a member of the Track & Field team.

Like many men born in the 1940’s, Steve was drafted during the Vietnam War, and spent his service doing research at a blood lab in Fort Knox, KY. Although he told few people of his service, it was a time that defined his career, as he went on to earn a PhD in Microbiology from Vanderbilt University.

After graduation, he moved across the country for his post doctorate work at The University of Southern California, Keck Medical School, and then The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada where he worked on cancer research. He later moved to Denver, Colorado to work at The National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine to further his work on T-Cell related diseases. And in 1990, Dr. Benedict accepted a position as a professor at the University of Kansas, in Lawrence, Kansas.

During his tenure at KU, Dr. Benedict worked in the School of Pharmacy and then Department of Molecular Biosciences. His main focus at KU was research, as he worked with T-Cells and received grant funding to fight diseases like Arthritis, Cancer and Diabetes. He served as an appointed advisor for the Food and Drug Administration. In addition to his own research, he helped mold the studies of countless post graduate students who went on to work as scientists, Medical Doctors, Pharmacists, and Nurses all over the country. His students are his legacy.

He received countless educational awards at KU, including The Chancellors Club Teaching Professorship. He took pride in making sure his coveted class in immunology was different every year. He was known for his sarcastic sense of humor, signature black T-shirts, spot-on assessments, and unfiltered advice. Away from the lab, Dr. Benedict was a copious reader who enjoyed Chinese brush painting, poetry, fine wine, cooking shows, college basketball, and spending time with his family.

While a single father in Toronto, Canada, Dr. Benedict met the love of his life, fellow scientist, Dr. Marci Chan. The couple was married 32 years and raised two amazing daughters.

Dr. Benedict was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer in 2018. Through surgery, chemo, and continuing to teach, he put up a valiant fight. But in the end, cancer won this battle. Steve died at Lawrence Memorial Hospital with his wife and two daughters by his side.

He is survived by his wife, Marci, his daughter Angela Benedict Smith and her husband Steve, his youngest daughter Joy Benedict, his two grandchildren Gavin (11) and Harper (9) Smith, and his pets Jasper and Millie.

Dr. Stephen Benedict will be remembered during a celebration of life service January 18, 2020, in Lawrence, Kansas.

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Visiting Nurses Hospice and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

22 Condolences

  1. Richard Blair on December 4, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Steve was one of the smartest people I have met in my lifetime. I graduated with him in 1964. I saw him last in 2004 at our 40th class reunion. He was definitely one of the good ones.

  2. Bill Burga Jr on December 4, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Terribly hurt and surprised with the news today. Stevie (to me) grew up just houses apart learning to ride bikes together, join the Cub Scouts then Boy Scouts and first time drivers licenses alongside the great class of 1964.
    He was destined to be and do great things from an early age. An intellect then and now. But, more than that, a great human being. I will miss him always.

  3. Kevin Latinis on December 4, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Steve represented the combination of intellect, wit (heavily weighted with sarcasm), humbleness, and a caring spirit that we all would benefit to emulate. I am blessed to have known him as a colleague and for his impact on my daughter as a mentor in her education and pursuit of science and medicine. I would often hear how Steve’s award winning immunology class was the single most useful class to medical students at KUMC.
    He will be missed but his impact and legacy are alive and growing exponentially.

  4. Morgan Barham on December 5, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Steve! What can I say — he and his lab are the sole reason I solidified my decision to go to graduate school. I’ve never had a teacher that could break down the concept of complement so eloquently! He even made lab meeting fun. Only one year spent in Kansas but it changed my life/career forever. I couldn’t wait to tell him every scientific accomplishment because he treated everything like it was a Million bucks. He will definitely be missed! <3

  5. Glenn Dunne on December 5, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    I was shocked to hear of Dr. Benedict’s passing. He had a gift for teaching (and a great sense of humor, to boot). He taught one of my favorite classes during my undergraduate tenure at KU, immunology, which solidified my decision to major in microbiology and prepared me well for medical school. I’m sure many other students could share similar stories about Dr. Benedict. I know that I am deeply grateful to have learned from him, and he will certainly be missed.

  6. Linda Isaac King on December 5, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    I went to elementary & high school with Stevie. He was a very smart person with a great sense of humor. I enjoyed talking to him & Marci at our class reunions. He will be missed by all of us. God bless his family!

  7. Nicole Massa on December 5, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    Dr. Benedict was on my graduate committee at KU. I graduated with my Master’s at KU and this is the most proudest moment of my life. He was very supportive of my decision and took the time to speak with me when I decided to switch from a PhD track to a Master’s track. He even offered me tissues when I got emotional during our conversation. He was a bright, kind, and intuitive man. I will never forget how sarcastic and funny he was.

  8. Bradley J. Newell on December 6, 2019 at 7:52 am

    Dr. Benedict’s Immunology class was my very first when I entered pharmacy school. His humor and ability to make a complex class fun and educational was second to none. I will forever remember Little Eddie and all the other pseudonyms he taught us. Thinking of his family during this most difficult time.

    “What a teach is, is more important than what he teaches.” – Karl Menninger

  9. Samantha Beauchamp on December 6, 2019 at 10:16 am

    I have no words. I have two favorite professors at KU and this is one of them. He wrote me countless letters when I was applying to medical school, joked around with me when I had a rough day, gave me encouragement and laughter when I messed up a part of his exams, and he made immunology fun. He’d always look up and smile at me while I was trying to keep my classmate awake during immunology. I was lucky enough to have him for two classes including my senior seminar. It was such an honor to have known this great man. He was so down to Earth and told me it was never to late to reach my dreams. He was truly a great inspiration to me and many others. It is a sad day here on Earth, but a celebration for all who are graced by his presence in heaven. I was so excited to come visit him on my break this year and tell him all about my first year of medical school. I’m so sad I will not get to do that. I will miss him dearly.

  10. John Kollhoff, PharmD '05 on December 6, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Proud to be part of Dr Benedict’s legacy and very grateful for the opportunity to learn from such an incredible person.

  11. Brian Geiss on December 7, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    I worked with Steve and Marci back when I was an undergraduate at KU, and I can honestly say that I he was one of the best scientists that I ever met and is a big reason that I became a scientist myself. Steve could look at a western film and point out bands that we would overlook, and he could explain complicated results in a way that the most wet-behind the ears undergrad could easily understand. His enthusiasm for teaching and mentoring were palpable, and he was always an enthusiastic cheerleader for students, colleagues, and friends. Steve was one of the great ones, and I’m saddened to hear of his passing. My thoughts are with Marci, his children, and his family. I hope they find solace in knowing that Steve touched many, many lives throughout the years.

  12. George Catt on December 8, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    Marci; My thoughts are with you and the family at this time of great loss. He truly made a difference in this world.

  13. Elaine Houston on December 9, 2019 at 5:40 am

    Marci, so sorry for your loss. Remember the good times. Love from Antigua. Elaine and Nash

  14. Ashley Rockers on December 9, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Dr. Benedict was a wonderful mentor to me while I was at KU. I had switched my major and needed the immunology class to fill the gap of my biology classes,
    (I hadn’t planned on taking his class). He advised me to look at the path of clinical laboratory sciences, and was one of the main reasons that I chose it. Dr. Benedict wrote one of my letters of recommendation for the program at KUMC, and after seeing him recently after about 12 years, he still remembered me and where I sat in his classroom. What a wonderful life and career he had, and he will be deeply missed by so many. May he rest in peace.

  15. Justin Mehojah on December 14, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    Dr. Benedict was one of the most important people in my college career. I learned more in his class than any other, and went to him many times for advice. As my advisor, I have him to thank for my passion for research, microbiology, and science. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Dr. Benedict.

  16. Melissa Shippy on December 21, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Steve was a one of a kind gem. We met 13 years ago when I was a student in his immunology class. Although he hardly knew me at the time and I never said anything, he was the intuitive type of person that could just sense I was going through a difficult time. One day after meeting with him to prepare for an exam he said: “You know, we can always just talk…if you want of course.” And thus sparked the most amazing friendship I’ve ever had, filled with middle of the night email exchanges, text messages, and me sitting on that tattered old green chair in his office for hours, just talking…about science, poetry, art, new words we made up, and most importantly, life. His smile and laugh lit up the room. His support guided me and so many others to where we are today. I am forever grateful for the difference he made in my life. His spirit most definitely lives on. Marci, Angela, and Joy–thank you for sharing such a beautiful soul with the rest of us. May his memory be eternal!

  17. David on December 28, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    My tribute, in memory of Steve, “the chess knight of silver” who ” travels on to where ever he must….”

    To my friend the research scientist, who could and did recite fine poetry on many occasions.

    Have gun will travel, reads the card of a man
    A knight without armor in a savage land
    His fast gun hire, heeds the calling wind
    A soldier of fortune, is a man called — Pal-a- din
    Paladin, Paladin, where do you roam
    Paladin, Paladin, far, far from home
    He travels on to where ever he must
    A chess knight of silver is his badge of trust
    There are campfire legends that the plainsmen sing
    Of the man with the gun, of the man called — Pal-a- din.

  18. Tony Chen on January 1, 2020 at 12:58 am

    I was a post-doc at Vanderbilt U, Dept of Microbiology in the same lab where Steve was performing his PhD studies. We shared an office for the two years I was at Vanderbilt. Steve was a serious student and impressed me with his work ethic and breadth of knowledge. I was happy to read of all his accomplishments, especially his educational awards and the impact he had on his students. Away from the lab, he was a great friend and he made my wife (she accepted a position as a research technician in the same lab) and I feel welcome in Nashville. My only regret is that except for a brief reunion, we did not hook up with Steve and Marci over the years.

  19. Michael Parmely on January 6, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Steve’s care for students was evident in his tireless commitment to the pre-doctoral candidates in immunology on the medical center campus. He was dedicated to encouraging their research progress while critically evaluating their developing scientific skills. We often use the word “passion” when we really mean “love.” Steve loved science and the students who naturally gravitated to him as a source of intellectual depth and encouragement. He helped them find the big questions in their work and never missed an opportunity to excite us all about the opportunities raised by a different view of the questions we ask in our own laboratory research.

  20. Greg Banks on January 15, 2020 at 9:19 am

    Steve was one of the awesome 3 that tutored me and helped me pass chemistry and physics. Before high school we played football on the asphalt street and we were soooo careful to not hurt each other when tackled. I remember our treks up the big mountain to the Big Rocks and the large tree we cut down.

    Steve was my best buddy since I was 5 and we had many adventures together from preschool to the first 2 years of college. I will miss not seeing him at high school reunions.

    Rest In Peace buddy – we’ll see each other some time in the future climbing the hills of Eastern Kentucky.

  21. Sharrion Russell on January 16, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    My Condolence to his wife, (Dr. M.C.), and to his daughters, grand children, and the pets.

    A very caring and friendly person, loved life, loved his family, a dedicated Professor, Research Scientist.

    I had the pleasure of meeting him through his lovely wife. I was her administrative assistant for 10 years, and enjoyed hearing her mention the love of her life, Steve. I always laughed when he said to me “you walk on water”, and I will never forget him giving me such a compliment. What an honor to have known you sir.

    Rest In Peace Steve (Dr. Benedict)

  22. Scout Sirridge on January 17, 2020 at 9:50 am

    Dr. Benedict was one of the few bright spots in my college career. His class, though tough, was easy to get excited for. At such a big school, it’s easy to feel like a professor has no idea who you are and doesn’t care. I felt seen in his class and felt like I could always go back to him for advice or dad-like reassurance. I wish I had gotten a chance to tell him how much of an impact he made on my life, even if I was to anxious to really interact with him.

    To his family, thank you for sharing Steven with us. I’ll be sure to share his lessons with my newborn.

    Rest in peace Dr. Benedict. You were the best teacher I’ve ever had. The world is much less fun without you.

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