November 2010

Retrospective: Dale J. Benos (1950 - 2010)

 

JBC AEs 
Dale Benos (center, red shirt) at a recent JBC associate editor's meeting.

A committed and proud member of the American Physiological Society, he served as president in 2006. He continued to be heavily involved in the APS until his death.

Dale had a passion for teaching, a legacy from Tosteson, an inspiring, if slightly terrifying, teacher who instilled the importance of lifelong learning, reiterating earlier advice from Dale’s parents and grandparents.

Dale could make the somewhat dry topic of membrane biophysics interesting and fun, enlivening lectures with videos, demonstrations and interviews with notable physicians and scientists, jokes and, occasionally, cookies. He recently invited students to use Twitter during class to ask him questions or make comments. He also gave out pens advertising the UAB Center of Clinical and Translational Science, for which he served as director of educational programs. This had an unexpected effect on his 60th birthday, when his freshman medical school class tweeted him birthday wishes and presented him with numerous pens. His teaching ability was naturally recognized by multiple university- and student-based awards.

He also advocated for scientific communication, serving as editor of the American Journal of Physiology – Cell Physiology for six years, starting in 1990, and later as chairman of the APS publications committee from 1999 to 2004. He joined the Journal of Biological Chemistry’s editorial board in 1989 and became an associate editor in 2006. He was justifiably proud of this appointment and encouraged everyone to submit their best work to the journals with which he was involved.

Dale was also a fierce athletic competitor, occasionally deserting houseguests early in the morning to play pick-up games of basketball; on finding himself on the wrong side of a best-of-three challenge, his fellow players would be dismayed to find that the game had suddenly changed to a best-of-five or, worse, a best-of-seven competition. He played fast-pitch softball and was pleased when, on a departmental outing to a Birmingham Barons game, he was asked to throw the first pitch, and one of the pro players noted the ball had “popped.”

He also was a fan of Formula One racing; his Italian heritage and admiration for innate ability led him to support the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher. One of his fondest office accessories was a scale model of Schumacher’s car picked up on one of his trips to the U.S. Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, Dale also found time to coach his daughters’ softball teams and, once they entered high school, to help with their cheerleading squads. Without question, his greatest passion was for his wife, Kim, and his daughters, Kaitie and Emilee. He is survived by them and his two brothers, Wayne and Rick. He also is survived by an extended scientific family who grieves the loss of an outstanding colleague, mentor and dear friend.

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Dale was my mentor as a doctoral student. In other ways he was like the older brother I never had. He was one of the most influential people in my life both scientifically and personally. Not a day passes that I don't think of him. CM

 

I knew Dale for over 25 years as a colleague at UAB and later just as a friend. In addition to respecting Dale as a scientist I came to know him as a kind and generous person. My fondest memory of Dale is the enthusiasm he showed each year in a course we offered Birmingham City School teachers called BioTeach. He was alway a favorite. I will miss seeing Dale. Stephen Hajduk, Professor and Head, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

 

 

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