While director of alumni and public affairs at Erindale College (now UTM) from 1990-97, Benson spearhead and the main Des Morton fundraising for the campus & # 39; Kaneff Center.
She then moved to the downtown U of T Law School, using the first $ 1 million donation from a law firm for the capital expansion project of the school.
She has often bragged that in a turnaround "she took a million dollars from lawyers," her husband says.
Benson helped to secure naming rights for Hammerson Hall at the Living Arts Center. She also worked for Peel Children & # 39; s Center and Riverwood Conservancy.
After her diagnosis, the Bensons moved to Newmarket to be closer to Rick's family.
Her subsequent clients as philanthropic advisers on major gifts included the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Cancer Society, Casey House, Autism Canada and the York, Toronto and Canadian Alzheimer's Societies.
His wife was probably so successful "because of the family atmosphere" that she attended all fundraising programs that she led, says her husband.
Imerson calls her a "poster-child for grace under pressure" who continued to entertain, travel and spend time in the cottage while "dressed with panache, wearing make-up and wearing stylish wigs when chemo stole her hair."
Patti Janetta-Baker heard Benson talk about fundraising during a Mississauga Board of Trade event. When they met later at a wedding, they discovered that they had lived in adjacent streets near Cawthra Rd. and the QEW for 20 years. Their telephone numbers were one digit apart, so they often received calls that were meant for each other.
The Bensons and Bakers quickly became friends.
"She had an incredible memory and could memorize the lyrics for almost every song ever written," Janetta-Baker said in an e-mail from Italy. "She was a born leader, had a brilliant spirit, loved her family, was a loyal and genuine friend, was honest and spiritual, always put the comfort of others above her own, was incredibly witty, never complained and never let herself be lonely the negative. "
" Holly was bigger than life, a force of nature, "Imerson adds. "She could charm every room and had an innate ability to start conversations and connect people."
Benson died in the Hospice Margaret Bahen in Newmarket. She is survived by Rick, her husband aged 36, her son Andrew and his wife Ashley, and her daughter Terri. A visitation takes place Don. 13 Sept., 4-8 p.m. at Taylor Funeral Home, 524 Davis Dr. in Newmarket.
Donations can be made to Bahen Hospice. A private family service takes place on Friday (September 14) with a public celebration of life at a later date not to be determined.