Richard M. Benzkofer, 77

Published 8:34 am Thursday, August 23, 2018

Richard M. Benzkofer, 77, died unexpectedly on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, in Austin, Minnesota, from a heart attack.

Richard M. Benzkofer, 77

Dick was born Dec. 2, 1940, on a farm outside Milford, Iowa, the son of Edward and Denise (Aldred) Benzkofer. He attended St. Joseph Parish grade school and Milford High School, graduating with a degree in accounting from what was then Mankato State University, “the Harvard of Midwest,” he liked noting.

Dick relished exploring new places, from Port Aransas, Texas, to Grand Marais, Minnesota, as well as new ideas, whether found at a state fair or an art museum, an orchestra hall or an arboretum. He had a lifelong love of rock ’n’ roll. Dick was the longtime finance director of the City of Austin, serving the city from 1972 to 1997. In 1985, under Dick’s leadership, the city for the first time earned the Government Finance Officers Association’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, which encourages local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles in the spirit of transparency and good government. The city has won the award every year since. Later, he was honored with a lifetime membership to the Minnesota Society of CPAs. After Dick left his employment with the city, he worked for a number of years at Scanlon, Nietz & Murch LLC in Dodge Center, Minnesota. Since retiring, he whole-heartedly volunteered his services as treasurer for The Friends of the Austin Public Library and the Paramount Theater (now the Austin Area Commission for the Arts). Earlier in his career, Dick worked as an auditor for the State of Iowa. His first job in Austin was with the CPA firm then known as Bowlby, Anfinson and Co.

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Dick was a gentle, compassionate, selfless and patient soul who cherished family, and at its heart, his wife of 53 years, Peggy. His love for her and their marriage remains an inspiration. Dick’s immediate family gathered every year for RickFest, a week of laughing, loving, 4×400 relay races, 500, tennis, puzzles, Four Square, and epic water fights (of which he was an eager participant) to remember and honor and mourn his son, Rick, who was killed in 1987 in a car accident at the age of 18.

One of Dick’s enduring gifts to his family will be its own history. Dick tirelessly researched the Benzkofer and Aldred family trees, traveling to cemeteries and churches and courthouses and reaching out to potential relatives across the Midwest and in Germany. He would have loved the family gathering caused by his passing.

In addition to his wife, Peggy (Smith) Benzkofer, Dick is survived by his daughters, Rachel (Tim) Guire of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and Sara Benzkofer of St. Paul, Minnesota; son, Stephan (Marjorie) Benzkofer of Oak Park, Illinois; grandchildren, Megan and Diana Guire and Samuel and Audrey Benzkofer; brothers, Alan (Liz) Benzkofer of Mankato, Minnesota, and Philip (Carolyn) Benzkofer of Dingman’s Ferry, Pennsylvania; and his sister, Diane Williams of Cherokee, Iowa. In addition to his son, Richard M. Benzkofer II, he was preceded in death by his parents; and his brother, Robert Benzkofer.

A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, at St. Edward’s Catholic Church, 2000 W. Oakland Avenue in Austin with Father James Steffes officiating. Visitation will be held for one hour before the service on Saturday at the church. Interment will be at Calvary Cemetery in Austin. In lieu of flowers, the Benzkofer family suggests that memorials in Richard’s honor be directed to the Austin Area Foundation, P.O. Box 6, Austin, MN 55912, in care of The Friends of the Library. Please consider jotting down a few remembrances of your own life or that of your parents and grandparents for future genealogists—which may very well be you. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at