Janis S. BensonFebruary 23, 1930 ~ October 18, 2017 (age 87)
Janis Benson, actress, author, wife and mother of five, died in her sleep on October 18th at the age of 87. She was an original; a deeply creative, animated, stylish, adventurous, warm and loving woman who raised five children while living across the globe, taking on new languages and cultures with ease, all the while working in theater and the arts.
Janis Norma Schrage was born in Moline, Illinois, on February 23, 1930 to Norma Moeller and Edward Schrage. She graduated from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois where she first began to distinguish herself as an actress. It was at Augustana that she met her future husband, the love of her life, Philip Andrew Benson. They were married on May 29th, 1955. They moved to Minneapolis, where Janis received a Masters degree in Theater from the University of Minnesota and where Philip earned his PhD.
When Philip joined the Foreign Service as a cultural attaché, the couple went on to lead a richly rewarding and adventurous life, living in many foreign countries, including Sweden, France, Holland, and Kenya. In their lives, both professional and personal, Janis and Philip were successful diplomatic representatives for the United States abroad, and developed deep friendships and admirers around the world.
They were blessed with five children, all of whom were raised abroad. While a full time mother, Janis was also an accomplished stage performer and a writer, frequently published in periodicals and magazines throughout her life, often chronicling the many remarkable travel adventures she went on with her husband, both by land and by sea. After the children were grown and Philip retired, the couple moved to Treasure Island, Florida. There, Janis became a well-known local actress, appearing on stage and on screen, and was a proud member of both Actor’s Equity and The Screen Actors Guild.
She had many productive and happy years in Florida: performing, writing, sailing, enjoying visits from children and grandchildren.
It is with deep gratitude that we honor the remarkable life of this singular, creative, loving and beautiful woman. Janis is survived by her husband Philip whom she loved every day of her life, and by her younger brother, Jack Schrage. Her five children: Andrew, Kate, Matthew, Peter, and Emily and their spouses will profoundly miss her. Her ten grandchildren: Jake, Meaghan, Simon, Daisy, Miles, Luke, Fiona, Paul, Philip, and Penelope, are all the inheritors of the legacy of life and love and creativity left by their grandmother.
Though we grieve, we know: “We cannot hold mortality's strong hand.”
A private family gathering will be held at the funeral home on Saturday, October 21st.
David C. Gross Funeral Homes, Central Avenue Chapel in St. Petersburg is serving the family.