John Thomas Benson III, age 90, passed away Oct. 28, 2018. Benson was the former president of the John T. Benson Publishing Company, which was founded in 1902 by his grandfather, John T. Benson.
After a successful career in the commercial printing division of the family business, Benson joined his brother Bob at the publishing company in 1969. He served first as vice president, then president, and the brothers led the company during the explosive growth of Contemporary Christian music during the 1970s and ’80s. Among many others, Benson added the early works of Michael W. Smith, Brown Bannister, and Gary McSpadden to the Benson catalog.
The company also recorded and marketed music from numerous Southern Gospel artists and groups, such as The Speer Family, J.D. Sumner & The Stamps, The Singing Rambos, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Lewis Family, the Hemphills, The Imperials, The Bill Gaither Trio, Gold City, The Cathedrals, The Kingsmen Quartet, and others.
In addition to his work at John T. Benson Publishing Company, Benson also served as the president of the Gospel Music Association from 1978-80 and was a member of the GMA Board of Directors. For his contributions to the Gospel music industry, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2006.
Benson was a longtime member of Hendersonville First United Methodist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, and he taught in the Follower’s Sunday School class. He loved boating, photography, and traveling, and he was devoted to his family.
Benson is survived by his loving wife of 70 years, Jane Cartwright Benson, and their children, Ann Benson Vincent, John Benson, IV (Pam), Joe Benson (Kathy) and Tricia Benson (Amy), as well as eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by three sisters.