John Benson was born in San Mateo in 1945. He was raised in San Mateo. He was an ice skater, member of the track team and later a member of the tennis team. His first life changing experience was when he was encouraged to apply for a position on a San Francisco-Osaka Sister City exchange program between his junior and senior year of high school. Two important things happened. He discovered he loved to travel and he discovered that the place he was living (the Bay Area) was far better than his limited travels to that point had led him to understand. He kissed the ground when he came home.
After high school, John was offered a summer job working for the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. At first, he did not understand the area and almost left. Then he went with some friends to climbing school and discovered his love of being in the mountains. He worked his way from the dish room to the kitchen, and eventually became a river raft guide floating down the Snake River every day. This was the best job he ever had. He has also climbed the Grand, Middle, and South Tetons.
After college (University of Oregon – Go Ducks!) and passing the CPA exam, John considered going to law school, but was talked out of it and instead, earned an MBA in Taxation from Golden Gate University. He spent 46 years practicing accounting, first San Francisco and then Oakland. During that time, he served on a number of CPA society committees and boards and eventually chaired the state Committee on Taxation, of which he is still an active member.
In 1973, an old high school girlfriend came back into his life. Diane Albracht was practicing general medicine in Honolulu when John’s and Diane’s mothers decided to put them back together again. They had a long-distance romance, and then Diane became the first female resident in ophthalmology at CPMC. Diane contracted breast cancer in 1976, but survived to have a long career, working until a few months before she succumbed to ovarian cancer in 2016.
Being told in 1976 that she only had a few years of life remaining, John and Diane began a life of travel, circumnavigating the globe several times and visiting every continent, but the cold one. Italy was one of their favorite destinations, although there were several cities they avoided in the early days, Rome and Venice. Later, they discovered there was much to be enjoyed in Venice after the tourists got back on their cruise ships. Diane and John also visited her ex-husband who was a retina specialist at the University in Padua. He was a guest at Il Cenacolo in the late 60’s or early 70’s. He told Diane that only very important people could go to Il Cenacolo.
John has served as president of the Piedmont Community Church, continues on the finance committee there and lives in Piedmont. He is a member of two other well-known San Francisco clubs. He has served on the Board of Directors of Il Cenacolo several times, having been a member since 1984.
John is planning to marry Cheryl, an old friend from his college days, in June 2018