Loran “Squeaky” Benham, 87, passed away at home in Fairbanks with his family by his side, on May 10, 2021. He was born March 28, 1934 to Ben & Ruth (Snyder) Benham in Deer River, MN. He was born the 4th of 8 children. He was preceded in death by his son Michael Loran Benham, his grandson, Max Webber, his parents, and his 7 siblings.
When he was 4 years old he moved with his family to Washington State. They settled in the Enumclaw area and he graduated from Issaquah High School in 1953. After graduation he joined the U.S. Army and was shipped to Anchorage, AK on the USAT Fredrick Funston with the WAMCATS 505th Signal Corp. He drove lowboy and hauled poles and equipment for the Alaska Communication System’s Telegraph Line crew who were replacing old tripod line on the Alaska and Richardson Highways.
After being discharged from the Army, he returned to Alaska to work for the Alaska Road Commission in Tok until Statehood. He then was hired by Alaska Motor Coaches in Fairbanks to drive their Brill Motor Coach. His run was to deliver groceries, freight, mail and passengers from Fairbanks to the Canadian Border at Beaver Creek, YT.
In 1959 on his way to Mardi Gras he stopped to visit his family in WA. While there he met his future wife Marion Bovee. Loran & Marion were married in February 1960 and he moved his new family to Delta Junction where Alaska Motor Coaches had the School Bus Contract. He drove school bus in the winters and Highway Coach in the summers. Over the years he drove to Anchorage, Haines, Valdez, Eagle, Whitehorse and Dawson City, YT. He loved driving bus and meeting people from all over the world. He had many stories he enjoyed telling from his driving days in Alaska and the Yukon before Tourism was promoted in Alaska.
In 1965 he was hired by the Alaska Highways Dept. in Fairbanks as an equipment operator and sent to Gardner Creek Highway Maintenance Camp at milepost 1253 on the Alaska Highway. He worked, and raised, his young family in Camp which was located 35 miles north of the Canadian Border. After a few years he was transferred to Johnson River Highway Maintenance Camp at milepost 1380 on the Alaska Highway, which was located 50 miles south of Delta Jct. From Camp the kids travelled 100 miles a day to go to school in Delta Jct. When the kids got into Jr High, he was transferred to Healy Maintenance Station where he was a working foreman until he retired in 1986.
Loran was a member of the Pioneers of Alaska and the Northern Lights Antique Auto Club. Participating in many car events with his 1926 Model T Touring and his 1960 Ford Thunderbird gave him such pleasure. He was looking for a project when he found a 1910 Jefferies in the Whitehorse Museum and was instrumental in acquiring it for the Eagle Historical Society. He then brought it home to Fairbanks where he built it up from a bare frame to look like it did in the early days in Fairbanks. Upon completion he took it home to Eagle where it is part of the Museum’s collection.
He also built a 1926 Ford Pick Up from a frame and a pile of parts. He took in to Eagle and spent many hours teaching residents how to drive it, which gave him such pleasure.
Loran also enjoyed many years of traveling in our motorhome, He also enjoyed hunting, trapping, fishing and snow machining with friends in his earlier days.
Loran is survived by Marion, his wife of 61 years, and his 3 daughters, Patricia Mix of Tucson, AZ, Diana (Vince) Perez of Fairbanks and Twyla (Dave) Webber of Delta Jct, AK, 5 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
In lieu of flowers a donation to the Fairbanks Hospital Foundation Hospice would be appreciated as they took such good care of him in his final weeks.
There will be a Celebration of Life potluck picnic for Loran on June 12, 2021 at the East Ramp Airpark Pavilion starting at 1:00pm. Come with a story to tell and a dish to share and help us Celebrate Loran’s Life.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Loran "Squeaky" Wayne Benham, please visit our floral store.