Chuck was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and grew up in Lompoc, California. He graduated from Lompoc High School. He attended Pasadena City College and then became a very proud Trojan, attending the University of Southern California on a scholarship. Chuck graduated from USC in 1972 with a degree in accounting and was recruited by the then-“Big 8” accounting firm of Haskins & Sells. Chuck rose to the level of manager at H&S (the Deloitte, Haskins & Sells) in the small business department when his wife, Judy, and he decided they needed to get out of the big city and found the wonderful town of Brookings in 1980.
Chuck found himself a big part of the Brookings community in short order. He was one of the original founders of the Brookings-Harbor Scholarship Foundation. He worked with all the local rural fire districts, helping them get set up with appropriate IRS documentation, especially the Winchuck Volunteer Fire Department where he and his wife, Judy, had built their dream home and had become part of the Winchuck “family.” He also found himself involved in various recruiting efforts for a new Port of Brookings Harbor manager (Russ Crabtree was hired), someone to get the city of Brookings financial house in order (his mother-in-law, Naomi Bradfield, was recruited for the job) and sadly, on the search for a new city manager after the death of his good friend and City Manager Lynn Stuart.
After his move to Brookings, Chuck put his accounting experience to the side for a while and initially joined his cousin, Bruce MacLeod, in his construction company. They built many area homes and then bought and refurbished a commercial fishing boat (the Prime Plus Two). As the poor national economy and spiked home loan interest rates killed the construction industry in the early 1980’s, Chuck went back to his accounting roots and joined the local CPA firm Scruggs & Hiatt which eventually became Scruggs Hiatt Benz & Musser.
In 1985, Chuck opened his own practice, Charles V. Benz, CPA, and then in 1987 recruited his next-door neighbor CPA’s (office wise) to join him in practice and Cholwell Benz & Hartwick, CPA’s emerged.
In 1993, Chuck and a very good friend, Chopper Westbrook, took a week-long fishing vacation at an exclusive fly-in fishing lodge in Iliamna, Alaska. On Aug. 31, 1993, the Beaver airplane they were flying to a fishing spot crashed and Chopper was killed (as were two other people on the plane) and Chuck was severely injured along with his and Judy’s best friend and best man, Ira Cook. His accounting career was over and the rest of his life was spent in and out of hospitals trying to heal the wounds from the crash. Chuck was one of the first people to have an artificial elbow (done at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota) and had groundbreaking eye surgery at Cal Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and at Mayo Clinic to try to correct his double and distorted vision.
Chuck fought a good fight over the years and was able to fish again for a while on his prized SeaSport boat, and “Fight On,” but time and surgeries took their toll, and Chuck passed away on Dec. 17, 2018, at his home on the Winchuck River.
Chuck is survived by his wife, Judy, of Brookings; his sister, Linda Rolfs and her daughter and son-in-law, Matt and Ryan Morris and Ryan’s children, Anastasia Hollingsworth and Destiney Lopez. Chuck is also survived by his brother, Jack of Brentwood, California; Jack’s wife, Tobi and adult children, Andrew Benz, Emily Benz and Ted Benz; brother, Richard Eppler and wife Sue of Monroe, Louisiana; his son, Mike and wife Sandy of Madera, California; and Mike’s beautiful daughter, Tiffani Benz, partner Tyler Balzer and mother to Chuck’s great-granddaughter, Sawyer Balzer, all of Canyon Lake, California.
Chuck never ceased to love his family, friends and neighbors during his difficult final years, and Brookings will always be a big part of his legacy.
A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 401 Fir St., Brookings. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are suggested to the BHHS Leadership Council, Attn: Tina Peters, 564 Fern Ave., Brookings, OR 97415, in support of the BHHS Athletic Program
Redwood Memorial Chapel is assisting the family.