God peacefully reclaimed another member of the “Greatest Generation” as Theodore Bud Benard calmly passed away at home in Bountiful, Utah, on 5 May, 2023, reluctant to leave his sweetheart, but anxious to reunite with his brothers, sisters and parents, who all predeceased him. Bud was born 17 December 1925, and was the last surviving child born to James Louis and Alice Saniger Benard. He was born and raised in Payson, Utah, the 8th of 12 children. When Bud was 14, the family moved to Bountiful. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the draft was activated for 18 year-olds. Bud received a military deferment to graduate from Davis High School before entering the Army. He was the first of the Benard children to graduate high school.
Bud reported to Ft. Hood, Texas, in August 1944 for basic training before serving in the Asia-Pacific theater during World War II. His two older brothers, Chester and Bill were already serving in Europe. Bud was in the 96th Infantry Division as part of the first wave of replacements in the Battle of Okinawa from April to June 1945. Back in the Philippines, he had a chance meeting with his brother Chet who came from Italy to the Pacific theater after V-E Day. Bud’s battalion was preparing for the invasion of mainland Japan, and was on a ship when the atomic bombs were dropped in August 1945. He always said this probably saved his life. He completed another 18 months of active duty in occupied Philippines, assigned to the 86th Division that had come from Europe to Asia.
When asked what he and other WWII Vets did when they came home from war, he would say, “We went to school, we got married, we went to work and we raised our families.” He did not need fanfare, but in his later years, he always appreciated when people thanked him for serving our country. He especially enjoyed going on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. in 2015, and being there for the 50th Anniversary of V-E Day. It included a chance meeting of six childhood friends from Payson that hadn’t seen each other for decades. He also spent 20 minutes with Senator Bob Dole at his request.
Bud met his sweetheart, Darlene Broomhead, on a blind date at a church dance. She was five years younger and still in high school. After a year and a half of dating, they married on 30 September 1949 and were sealed as eternal companions in the Salt Lake Temple 19 June 1950. She was a “city girl,” but moved to rural Bountiful where they enjoyed 73 and a half years of marriage. They spent their first few years travelling, working and dreaming of having children. They forged great friendships with other young couples, with dad and the guys forming great basketball teams that competed many times in the All-Church tournaments at the U of U and against local school teams.
After additional education, Bud worked at Hill Air Force Base as a Production Manager. He was known as MISTR at HAFB and around the country, which stood for Management Items Subject To Repair. He was instrumental in developing a program that gave a Federal Stock number to every component on US aircrafts and missiles that may require repair. Those numbers are now printed on each component. He traveled to Air Force bases all over the country and trained people to use the system, and was always greeted with the name MISTR. In his later career at HAFB, he was involved in the maintenance of the F-16 Fighters and inspections following crashes or maintenance issues. He had many other notable achievements and awards during his career.
Bud’s true love from a very young age was rifle shooting. Four years after returning from the war, he joined the Army Reserve 96th Infantry Division, and was a professional marksman. He competed with and coached the National Army Reserve “All-Star” shooting team. He took great pride in beating the All-Active-Duty Army, Navy and Marine teams. He retired early from HAFB at age 58 so he could spend full time in shooting competitions before retirement at age 60 from the Army Reserve. He was the 1988 National Senior Champion at Camp Perry, OH.
He retired from the US Army as a Sergeant Major, the highest rank attainable for enlisted soldiers. He continued to coach the Utah State Rifle team for at least a decade after he retired. He received more trophies, plaques, medals and awards than can be counted. Some notables were being in the President’s 100 six times (top 100 riflemen in the nation), earning the Distinguished Rifleman Award which is a rare thing.
Hundreds of Davis County youth were taught Hunter’s Safety by him, and were taught to shoot in high school basements, the old Bountiful Armory, the Browning Armory in Ogden, and the Centerville shooting range, for which he obtained approval and developed near the “V” on the mountain. He served as President of the Utah State Rifle & Pistol Association from 1981-1995, after serving as the High Power Rifle Chairman from 1957-1981. He was also President of the Centerville Small Arms Association. His children and grandchildren had their first shooting lessons in his home shooting ranges, one down the main hallway and another in the basement. Hundreds of youth have competed under his coaching and many youth groups have had great activities up at the range, thanks to him.
Dad loved to tell the story that after having three girls, they switched doctors and had three boys. There could not have been a more involved dad in the lives of his six kids. He was our #1 coach, teacher, fan, cheerleader, photographer, provider and leader. He attended thousands of ball games, dance recitals, piano and violin recitals, theatre productions, school programs, drill competitions, church programs, camp-outs, graduations and on and on. Not only did he support every event he could of his children, he continued by attending events for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Dad also gave us many opportunities for adventure and travel. Although he didn’t love boating or snow skiing, he made sure we always had a boat and skied every winter. We traveled across the country every summer, camping along the way. Dad would be in shooting competitions while mom and the kids played. We have wonderful memories of Camp Perry, Ohio and Ft. Benning, Georgia and their surrounding areas.
Bud and Darlene have enjoyed travelling the world together. They have visited six continents with each other, family and friends. They have dear friend relationships and a study group that lasted for decades and became family. They loved discovering and then meeting extended relatives in Kentucky every year. After retirement, Bud enjoyed competing in the Utah Summer Games in Cedar City in High Powered Shooting and the Huntsman Senior Games in St. George playing basketball and softball.
Dad is a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has served in many callings and loved serving wherever asked. He spent many years guiding boys in Webelos, served in a Branch Presidency at Legacy House in Bountiful, as High Priest group leader, ward clerk, and many more callings. He served as Stake Athletic Director and loved and felt honored to serve on the All-Church Tournament Committee at a time when ward and stake teams throughout the country would come to Salt Lake to play in tournaments. He also remembers attending a small LDS church branch in Okinawa during the war and sharing faith with other soldiers, many of whom did not return home. That was a foundational experience for his faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. In later years, he tenderly shared his love and testimony of God’s eternal plan with his cherished and growing posterity.
He is survived by his dear wife Darlene; children - Linda (Bert) Barnes Whipple, Karen Hart, Julie (Russ) Randle, Blaine (Kellie) Benard, Brad (Cayla) Benard, Bryan (Monique) Benard, Kaye Benard; 28 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren (including one on the way); brother-in-law and sister-in-law Gordon (Grace) Broomhead, and sister-in-law Joyce (Lynn-deceased) Benard. He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Martha, Dorothy, Vergie Louise, Rose Mae; brothers, Chet, Bill, James, Lee, Ray, and Lynn, and son-in-law Fred Barnes.
A viewing will be held on Thursday, May 11, 2023, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Russon Mortuary, 295 N Main St, Bountiful. Funeral services will be held on Friday, May 12, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at the Bountiful 31st Ward, 585 East Center Street, Bountiful. A viewing will be held from 9:30-10:30 a.m. prior to the services. Interment will follow at Memorial Estates, 1640 East Lakeview Drive, Bountiful, Utah.
Services will be streamed live on Russon Mortuary & Crematory Facebook page and this obituary page.