Dr. Donald W. Benson
Donald W. Benson, MD, PhD,
Marjorie A.M. Benson
Donald W. Benson was born in Jamestown, New York in 1921, and earned his bachelor's degree in science from the University of Chicago in 1949. He attended the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and earned his medical degree in 1950. Following his internship in Buffalo, New York, and his residency in anesthesiology at the University of Chicago Clinics, Dr. Benson remained at the University of Chicago as a faculty member in anesthesiology and, in 1957, received his doctoral degree in pharmacology.
Marjorie Ann Maulsby Benson was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1923, but grew up on the family farm near South Haven, Michigan. Her parents would work the farm during the summer months. Her father would teach school and her mother would teach piano in town during the winter months. Thus, Marjorie's training as a pianist began at an early age and continued when she attended North Park College and the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Illinois. She won the Young Artists' Competition of the Society of American Musicians, making her formal concert debut at Chicago's Kimball Hall in November 1942. It was while attending North Park that Marjorie met her future husband. Donald and Marjorie where married in 1945.
In 1956, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine recruited Dr. Benson as an Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Anesthesiologist-In-Charge at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. At that time, anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins was simply a support service. One of Dr. Benson's major accomplishments was establishing a full-fledged residency program in anesthesiology and recruiting top-caliber applicants.
Dr. Benson promoted the use of ventilators in surgery and clinical care. While in Chicago, he and a colleague had developed a unique positive-pressure ventilator. At Johns Hopkins, Dr. Benson used these ventilators during extensive operations and in the immediate postoperative period. Perhaps one of Dr. Benson's most important contributions to Johns Hopkins was his role in developing a surgical intensive care unit. He began lobbying for an intensive care unit in the early 1960s and spent almost a decade making it a reality. By the late 1960s, anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins matured into subspecialties including cardiac, obstetric, and ophthalmological anesthesiology thanks to Dr. Benson's leadership.
Marjorie A.M. Benson
After the move to Baltimore, Marjorie became active in the music community, giving frequent recitals and sometimes accompanying her husband who was an accomplished tenor. She was the featured soloist on two occasions with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the early 1960s. Marjorie also excelled as hostess for the yearly Anesthesiology parties, establishing enduring friendships with the faculty and staff.
In 1974, Dr. Benson returned to the University of Chicago as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology. He remained at the University of Chicago until his death in 1985 at age 63. Marjorie continued giving recitals after the move back to Chicago. She returned to the American Conservatory of Music and graduated with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1987. She was active as a community volunteer in Hyde Park, as well as with the Chicago Symphony and the Newberry Library, and directed the music program at her retirement community in Chicago until her death in August 2013 at age 90.