Roy G. Benedict

Some very sad news via Eric Bronsky:

We rail preservationists and historians have lost an important member of our community. Roy G. Benedict, prolific writer and historian active with several rail organizations over the course of 60+ years, passed away unexpectedly. He was 78.

Among other activities, Roy was long involved with CERA publications and also served a term as editor of First & Fastest, published by the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society. His historic research and writings were meticulous, thorough and accurate. A native of Chicago’s South Side, he was considered a ‘walking encyclopedia’ of Chicago Surface Lines routes and operations.

Roy was a bachelor who lived alone on Chicago’s Northwest Side. He was employed as a schoolteacher. After retiring, he started Roy G Benedict Publisher’s Services as a sole proprietorship. He did not own a car and used public transportation to get wherever he needed to go, traveling frequently to Indiana to observe NICTD board meetings or to distant libraries to research electric railways. When invited to ride with others to railroad museums, model meets, and other events not accessible by bus or train, Roy was always grateful for the opportunity to tag along.

Roy would occasionally join me, Dan Joseph, and others on day trips. The photo below shows Roy enjoying Bob Olson’s South Bend Electric Railway in October of 2016. Dan spoke with Roy only last Wednesday, inviting him to join us Sunday to visit the Illinois Railway Museum. Our pickup point was the CTA Belmont Blue Line station. Roy, normally punctual, was not there when we arrived. We tried calling his home and mobile phone but there was no answer. Growing concerned, we made several phone calls in an attempt to find someone who could check on Roy. Our worst fears were confirmed on Monday.

There will be no funeral service. Roy bequeathed his collection to the Illinois Railway Museum’s Strahorn Library. I have no other information.

— Eric

Jeff Wien notes:

Roy was one of the most intelligent people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Roy G. Benedict started out as a mapmaker as a teenager in the 1950s. An early example of his work, a mimeographed track map of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin, is reproduced below.

He was the co-author, along with James R. MacFarlane, of Not Only Passengers: How the Electric Railways Carried Freight, Express, and Baggage, Bulletin 129 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association (1992).

Roy was very helpful to Carl Bajema, offering helpful advice on the book that became The Street Railways of Grand Rapids (co-author: Tom Maas), Bulletin 148 of Central Electric Railfans’ Association (2017). He was a stickler for getting details correct, and did not suffer fools gladly. If you disagreed with Roy, you had better have the facts at hand to make your case.

Mr. Benedict was interviewed on-camera for the Chicago Streetcar Memories DVD produced by Jeff Wien and the late Bradley Criss for Chicago Transport Memories. He was also a contributor to Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, by Jeffrey L. Wien and myself, (Bradley Criss Photo Editor), published in 2015 by Central Electric Railfans’ Association as Bulletin 146.

In recent years, Roy had also been very active in the yearly Hoosier Traction Meet that takes place in Indianapolis each September.

This is a great loss to the railfan community. He will be missed.

-David Sadowski

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5 thoughts on “Roy G. Benedict

  1. I learned a great deal from Roy, mostly via internet. The one time I did get to meet him and spend some time, he helped me with some sound advice for getting my life in order. I was young and headed down a bad path, but he was very kind, like an uncle or your best friend’s dad. For all the knowledge of transit history I gained from him, I value that day as the most important. A very smart and outgoing man who is irreplaceable. Thoughts and prayers to Roy. he will be deeply missed.

  2. This post about Roy Benedict I am sure would please him. You did a fine job on it. Better than a professional editor in my opinion. As was the case with Joe Reuter, it would appear that both Joe and Roy died alone. We’ll never know how their final moments were, but I can say that personally I would not like to die alone. I would like to hold the hand of someone who I love and respect.


  3. As many of these old-timers pass on, I marvel at all the information about life and living and of course street railways that goes with them. It is my misfortune to never have known or even heard of Mr. Roy G. Benedict. His soul now belongs to the ages, may he rest in eternal peace.

  4. Roy was a true gentleman in the finest sense of that word. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of Chicago traction, which he widely shared as a source for others and in his writing. My last contact with him was at the Hoosier Traction Meet a few years back, which he led with graciousness and efficiency. I am glad he had the foresight to arrange the disposition of his collection to the Strahorn Library, a lesson there for those of us to plan to live forever.
    His passing is a great loss to scholars and the rail enthusiast community.

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