James L. Benefiel (1895-1992) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: James L. Benefiel (1895-1992)

Historical Note: James L. Benefiel (September 17, 1895-June 3, 1992) was born in Hume, Illinois, but spent most of his life living in Champaign, Illlnois.  While he spent much of his professional career as a linotype operator, he was an active performing musician and band leader for many of Champaign-Urbana's community bands.  Benefiel was a member of Wallace Ewing's Zouave Band from 1914 to the beginning of World War I, where he played French horn. After serving in the U.S. Navy as a Seaman First Class during World War I, Benefiel returned to the community to perform once more with the Ewing Transfer Company band but now on the soprano saxophone. After moving back to Champaign-Urbana in 1929, Benefiel became a typesetter for the News-Gazzette as well as a secretary for the News-Gazette Credit Union. Beginning in 1938 he formed the WDWS Radio German Band with three of the former members of the Ewing band and later served as the conductor for the WDWS Radio band until 1940. During WWII, Benefiel and many of the original band members of the WDWS band joined the Illinois Reserve Militia, where he directed a band under the title of the Illinois Reseve Militia. After the Militia Band was decommissioned  in 1947, Benefiel became the director of the Moose Band of the Champaign Elk's lodge, a position that he held until 1961 when he retired.

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