Nelson K. Benton

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Nelson K. Benton

December 14, 1951 - November 02, 2018

Nelson K. Benton Arizona - Nelson K. Benton, 66, a legendary North Shore journalist and community leader, died Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, at his home in Arizona, surrounded by his loving family. He died after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.

Nelson was a longtime editor and political reporter for the Salem News, and ended his influential career as editorial page editor of the Eagle-Tribune Publishing Co., and North of Boston Media Group. A longtime resident of Peabody, he retired in 2012 and moved with his wife, Laurie, to Arizona. The couple was married for 46 years.

The son of the late Nelson and Betty (Chiarello) Benton, Nelson was born Dec. 14, 1951, in Jamaica, N.Y., and then lived for 14 years in the Philippines, where his father worked as a manager for the Singer Sewing Machine Co. The Benton family moved back to the United States in 1965 and settled in Danvers, where Nelson met his future wife, Laurie Brown. The high school sweethearts began dating after junior year, went to prom together, and graduated DHS, class of 1969. The couple then studied at the University of Maine, Orono, where they both took accelerated classes and graduated in only three years so they could get married more quickly.

Nelson and Laurie, a retired Salem public school teacher, bought a home in Peabody where they raised their two sons, Tim and Todd. Despite his demanding career, Nelson was a devoted family man, never missing a sporting event or school function.

Nelson worked for 40 years at the Salem News, beginning his career as an intern and working his way through the newsroom ranks from beat reporter, to city editor, to managing editor, to editorial page editor. Nelson won numerous prestigious awards for his voluminous work, including the Yankee Quill Award, considered the highest individual honor awarded by fellow journalists in New England. He was also inducted in the New England Newspaper Press Association Hall of Fame. The Salem News longtime Student-Athlete Award is named in his honor.
His dedication to the best interests of the North Shore community was best displayed during his coverage of the Salem Teachers Union strike in the early 1990s. Although Nelson could have written about the heated community topic with a bias due to his wife’s membership in the union, he stuck to the facts and served as the voice of the North Shore people, advocating for what was best for the overall community, specifically the Salem school system.

Along with community journalism, Nelson loved to read, golf, and swim, and was a big fan of the Patriots and Red Sox. His greatest joys came from being with his family, especially his grandchildren.

Benton was a journalist to the core but above that he was a family man. His love and dedication for his family and the friends he had throughout the North Shore was always his priority, regardless of the pressing matters he was responsible for as part of his career.

Nelson leaves his wife of 46 years, Laurie (Brown) Benton, of Surprise, Arizona; son Todd Benton and his wife, Erin, and their daughters, Eliana, 13, and Emilee, 8, also of Surprise, Arizona; and son Timothy Benton and his wife, Laurie, and their sons TJ, five, and Brady Nelson, seven months, of Lanoka Harbor, N.J.
The family will hold a memorial service in Arizona. Donations in the name of Nelson K. Benton may be made to Hospice of the North Shore/Care Dimensions, 75 Sylvan Street, Suite B-102, Danvers, MA 01923; or Hospice of the Valley, Arizona, www.hov.org/donate.
Published on November 5, 2018
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