Benjamin Franklin Dillingham III
Benjamin Franklin Dillingham Ill was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on May 23, 1945, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin F. Dillingham II. A fifth generation descendent of New England missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands, he attended Punahou School in Honolulu, and later St. Mark's School in Southborough, Massachusetts. He holds the distinction of being the first sports manager ever named to the St. Mark's School Athletic Hall of Fame. Ben attended Harvard College, where he majored in Economics and managed teams in football, hockey and lacrosse, graduating Cum Laude in 1967. He earned six letters in athletics and was Vice President of the A. D. Club. Ben then pursued an MBA at the Harvard Business School. With his MBA in hand, Ben became a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps. He received the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" for his service in Vietnam. Additionally, Ben was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his work on the XM-1 Main Battle Tank. After serving eight years, and with the rank of Captain, he returned to civilian life in San Diego. After several years at General Dynamics, Ben became the Chief Financial Officer for the San Diego Metropolitan Transit Development Board. Under his stewardship, the first light-rail transit system was established in San Diego. In 1986, Ben became Chief of Staff to San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor, and after she left office, continued to manage her affairs. Ben shared his life with three life partners - first, Dannis Grady Whorton, then Fredrick Stann Libby, and finally,Johnny Richard Beck. Each lost his battle with AIDS. Throughout his life and through these relationships, Ben was an influential community leader, and a strong advocate of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights. Ben served with distinction on many charitable Boards of Directors over the years, including the San Diego AIDS Project, AIDS Foundation San Diego, San Diego Human Dignity Foundation, and Episcopal Community Services. Ben was also a member of the San Diego County Veterans Advisory Council and Chair of the San Diego County Treasury Oversight Committee. Ben was repeatedly recognized for outstanding community service. He was the San Diego LGBT Pride Grand Marshall and Man of the Year. He also received the Harvey Milk Memorial Award, the Human Rights Award, the Crystal Torch Award from the Human Rights Campaign, the Episcopal Community Services Award for Social Justice, and the Humanitarian Award from the City of San Diego Human Relations Committee. As a measure of the high esteem in which he was held within the community, the LGBT Veterans Wall of in the San Diego LGBT Community Center was co-named for him. There is today a Benjamin F. Dillingham Ill LGBT Leadership Award and the Ben F. Dillingham Community Fund. Ben passed away at home from pancreatic cancer on November 16, 2017. He is survived by his mother, Mrs. Andrews Dillingham, his sister Mrs. Hugh Watts (Ceseli) Foster, his brother Henry Gaylord Dillingham II and his sister Mrs. Stuart Harold (Lorie) Rosenwald, treasured in-laws, delightful nieces and nephews and their offspring, and many good friends and colleagues. Ben was noted for his iron integrity, generosity of spirit, and dedication to the city of San Diego and the LGBT community. His loss will be felt by many, and he will be remembered for having lived a varied, accomplished, and committed life.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased