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Benchoff, longtime Waynesboro-area educator and government leader, dies at 82

April 30, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

Obituary

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The Waynesboro area lost a longtime educator and government leader when Paul G. Benchoff died earlier this week. He was 82.

"Paul touched the lives of a lot of people. He was a good, solid citizen in the community and took part in a lot of aspects of it," said Gerald W. Reichard, who taught agriculture alongside Benchoff in the Waynesboro Area School District.

Benchoff was found dead in his Geiser Avenue home on Monday evening and is believed to have died in his sleep the night before.

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On Tuesday, callers to the Washington Township municipal offices expressed shock concerning Benchoff's passing, according to Township Manager Mike Christopher.

Benchoff was a Washington Township supervisor for more than 20 years and served as chairman of that board for several years. He also served on the township Zoning Hearing Board and municipal authority, which oversees the water and sewer systems.

All told, he had more than 32 years of service invested in township leadership.

"Paul was just an outstanding example of how to live your life, raise a family and be a municipal government officer," Christopher said.

Benchoff, a teacher for several decades, also was active in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Waynesboro and Rouzerville (Pa.) Lions Club.

"He served the public, residents of the township and the students the best he could," said Warren Tomlinson, who was on the Washington Township Municipal Authority board with Benchoff.

When a Herald-Mail reporter rode along for the township supervisors' annual road inspections in 2007 -- Benchoff's last year as a supervisor -- the former teacher demonstrated a keen knowledge of local history. He'd point to a house and not only name the homeowner, but also that person's parents' names, the resident's occupation and the home's approximate year of construction.

"Paul had convictions and was backed up quite a bit by his knowledge of township policies and regulations. He seemed to have a very vast knowledge of the township," Tomlinson said.

"I'll miss him greatly, and I'll miss his advice. His wisdom was second to none," Christopher said.

Louis M. Barlup Jr., a former Waynesboro Area Senior High School principal, described Benchoff as "a country boy" who became "a leader in agriculture locally and in the larger community."

"He had a terrific personality, and the students liked him and respected him. ... They called him 'sir,'" Barlup said.

"Paul was kind of easy going, but yet he had a way of getting a point across whether it be with a lesson, disciplinary type of thing or as a friend," Reichard said.

Reichard said the nature of agricultural education allowed Benchoff to visit students and their parents on the farm outside of school hours.

"We had more one-on-one contact with the students than any other teacher ... (yet) I know there were years when he had more students than he had desks," Reichard said.

Christopher said he had talked to Benchoff about the continued forays into public service.

"He just felt that you should give back to your community," Christopher said.

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