WESTBROOK – Friends and family of Eric Benson ignored the sudden and violent nature of his death and focused instead Saturday on a fun-loving, talkative and charming 24-year-old’s life.

About 200 people turned out at St. Hyacinth’s Church for Benson’s funeral, six days after he died following a single punch to the head in Monument Square.

Police have charged William Googins, 20, with manslaughter, saying he and two friends made sexual advances toward a woman walking with Benson early May 23. To fend them off, the woman told the three that Benson was her boyfriend, and then Googins punched Benson in the face, she told police.

When he fell, Benson’s head hit the bricks of Portland’s Monument Square and he died a short time later at Maine Medical Center.

Eric Benson’s twin brother, Andrew Benson, told mourners that the siblings shared a love of cars, finding junks that they could fix up and race in Maine and New England.

“We had different ideas of what to do with them,” Andrew Benson said of the cars, “but that’s twins.”

Andrew Benson and Matt Moxcey, a close friend of Eric Benson, described him as someone always willing to talk.

“He was my friend and he was my teacher, my confidante and my teacher,” Moxcey said. “His happiness was infectious. He would understand our grief, but not let it linger.”

“He was the easiest and most difficult person to get along with,” Andrew Benson said. “His laugh and his smile would make arguing with him pointless.”

Andrew Benson noted that when his brother went to the University of Maine, the school didn’t offer a degree in geochemistry, which was the subject Eric Benson intended to major in. Undaunted, Eric Benson worked with professors to design a program that would allow him to get the classes for the degree, even if the degree itself didn’t reflect that.

The Rev. Dave Patterson of Highland Cliff Advent Christian Church in Windham offered some other glimpses into Benson’s personality, noting that if he put a car together and had pieces left over, “he would say, ‘It’s weight reduction.’“

Patterson also said that Benson made a deal with a neighbor to mow the neighbor’s lawn in exchange for meals — then provided a list of his favorite meals to the neighbor.

“When I said to Andrew, ‘He (Eric) was a conversationalist,’ Andrew said, ‘No, he just talked your ear off,’” Patterson said.

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]