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Postby AfricanMustang » Thu Jan 19, 2023 11:33 am

Fred Benners was born on June 22, 1930, to William Haywood Benners, Jr. and Ruth Hagaman Benners. He grew up on Asbury Street in University Park with his older brother, William "Bill" Haywood Benners III, just a few doors from the campus of Southern Methodist University, which would play such a large role in his future. As a three-sport athlete at Highland Park High School, Fred played football, basketball, and baseball. In the summer of 1949, after his freshman year at The University of the South, Fred was throwing footballs and spotted by SMU assistant football coach, Herman "Sleepy" Morgan, who had been head coach of Fred's 1946 Highland Park team. Coach Morgan then recruited Fred to SMU on a baseball scholarship on the condition that he would also play for the football team.

In September of 1950, Fred and the SMU Mustangs traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to play Ohio State in front of eighty-one thousand Buckeye fans. Trailing 24-7 halfway through the third quarter, head coach Rusty Russell put Fred in as quarterback, and they ran Coach Russell's spread formation offense (the precursor of the modern "shotgun" formation). In the final 20 minutes of the game, Fred passed for 325 yards and four touchdowns to beat 32-27 that year's Heisman Trophy winner, Vic Janowicz. The headline in The Columbus Dispatch the following day read: "Bucks Become Has-Benners." After six more victories, the Associated Press ranked SMU as the number one team in the nation. At the end of the 1950 season, Fred led the Southwest Conference in completions, attempts, and passing yards, and he was invited to play in the 1950 Blue-Gray Football Classic.

While the 1950 Ohio State game certainly introduced Fred to football fans around the country and earned him Football Digest Player of the Week on October 1, 1950, the game remembered most by SMU fans is the nationally televised Notre Dame game in South Bend on October 13, 1951. For Mustangs, the 27-20 win over Notre Dame is recalled by many as one of the greatest SMU games in history. An estimated forty-four million people watched that national broadcast. It was always the most memorable game to Fred because his grandfather, William Haywood Benners, died minutes before kickoff that day. Fred appeared on the December 1951 cover of Sport Life magazine and received an invitation to the 1951 Senior Bowl.

Drafted by the New York Giants in 1951, but with an ROTC commitment to fulfill and his sights set on law school, Fred doubted he could play professional football. Vice president of the Giants, Wellington Mara, thought otherwise and convinced Fred to attend NYU School of Law in the mornings and practice with the team in the afternoons. His rookie year, however, Fred sustained a career-ending knee injury. Years later, when asked about the challenges of attending law school and playing in the NFL at the same time, Fred's deadpan response was, "Not many guys do that anymore."

Fred then returned to SMU to finish law school and, after graduation, entered the United States Air Force. In 1954, he began his legal career at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. When he fulfilled his service years, he returned to Dallas to practice law.

In 1966, Fred married Louise Crespi Felder and, in 1968, Frederick "Rick" H. Benners, Jr. was born. Fred was an outstanding, attentive, and involved father. He and Rick enjoyed many great times on the playing field, the golf course, the lake, and in the duck blind with Fred's beloved Labrador retrievers. Fred and Rick were great friends.

In 1994, Fred married Betsy McClendon Shea after rekindling an old friendship that turned into love. Through their marriage, Fred and Betsy wove together their extended families in a devoted relationship until his death. Fred was an integral part of Betsy's family. He attended weddings, joined family trips, and was always available and supportive of children and grandchildren alike. Fred and Betsy were a remarkable match, equally enjoying nights out on the town and traveling with their many friends. This included special time at their fishing cabin and experiencing the great outdoors. Betsy delighted in besting Fred (at times) with her angling skill.

A long-time member of Brook Hollow Golf Club and Coon Creek Club, Fred will be remembered as a kind person. His thoughtfulness of and attention to others were not just reserved for family, as he was always interested in "you." A father figure and a role model to many, Fred was generous with his time and resources and provided free legal counsel to countless people in need. His love, sage wisdom and timely humor will be greatly missed.

Fred was predeceased by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Haywood Benners, Jr., his beloved cousin, John Frederick Hagaman (Sheila), and his nephew, Smith M. Benners. He is survived by his beloved wife Betsy Shea Benners, his brother, William H. Benners III, his cousin Katharine Westbrook, his children, Frederick H. Benners, Jr. (Allison), William D. Felder (Katharine), Nancy S. Clay (Jim), and Dan J. Shea (Joy), as well as his niece, Ann B. Travis (Ed), and his nephew, David D. Benners (Leslie). He is also survived by ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

On Saturday, January 14, 2023, a family-only service was held at St. Michael And All Angels Episcopal Church to celebrate Fred's life. The Benners Family would like to express their gratitude to Jennifer Satery, the caregivers of Home Care Assistance of Dallas, Cecilia Tanguma and the Division of Geriatric Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center for the care they provided Fred. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the charities listed below:

https://obits.dallasnews.com/us/obituar ... d=38657374
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Postby redpony » Sat Jan 21, 2023 7:15 am

Sad news. I was at that Ohio St. game and met him in the SMU locker room after the game.
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Postby Treadway21 » Sat Jan 21, 2023 10:58 am

Thanks for posting. An SMU great.
An atheist is a guy who watches a Notre Dame-SMU football game and
doesn't care who wins.
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Postby BUS » Wed Jan 25, 2023 9:28 am

Encouraging and supportive to me as a young man club worker. Yes, a long time ago but he never changed.
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