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A funeral service will be held Sunday for Caroline County General District Court Judge Frank L. Benser Jr.
Benser, who lived in Bowling Green and also presided over General District Court in King George, died Wednesday after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 67.
Sunday’s funeral will be held at 2 p.m. at Bowling Green Baptist Church, 225 N. Main St. in Bowling Green. A reception will follow at the town’s event hall.
A graveside service with military honors will be held at Mt. Nebo Cemetery in Madison County at 11 a.m. Monday.
Benser, who came to Bowling Green as a young man out of law school and began practicing as an attorney, became a pillar in his adopted community. He served as the mayor of Bowling Green for 17 years until stepping down to take a seat on the bench in 2005, and was a leader in civic affairs.
“I know we will miss him greatly,” said Terry Southworth, clerk of Caroline General District Court. She recalled Benser as “one of the kindest, caring, fairest men I had ever worked for.”
“He was very, very intelligent,” said Southworth, but put people at ease.
“He was very good to us,” recalled Southworth. “He was concerned about things in the office and how we were treated by everybody. He just looked out for us.”
Benser grew up in Baltimore County, Maryland in a single-parent family. He earned a scholarship to the McDonogh School in Baltimore. He went on to graduate from the University of Virginia, helping pay his way by waiting on tables at a restaurant.
He was called to active duty in the Army in 1968 and was commissioned a second lieutenant, serving in intelligence. Benser was a Vietnam War and earned a Bronze Star for meritorious service in combat. After his Army service he went to the College of William and Mary law school.
When he came out of law school, Benser moved to the county seat with his wife, Sharon, in 1975, and became a partner in a law practice.
Benser was a two-term president of the Caroline Chamber of Commerce. He helped to found the Caroline Library System, the Dawn Progressive Association, and was president of the Caroline Ruritan Club and Caroline Lions Club. He also was an active member of the Bowling Green Merchants Association, served on the board of Germanna Community College, and was chairman of the Caroline Republican Party.