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Our banter was brief however most actually candy.

At one level of every work day on the Community Press & Recorder, I might run into artist Thom Van Benschoten within the break room. Whenever I noticed him, I might ask, “How are you, Thom?” His intentionally slower reply, “I am well. How are you?,” all the time preceded my equally intoned, “I am well.”

We then would crack up at our insistence on being grammatically well mannered. People who by no means met Thom would possibly not perceive how humorous this was. My mentor, Gary Presley, remembered him because the “grumpiest nice guy I ever knew.” Yep. Our curmudgeon was intimidating, till you knew what an enormous coronary heart he possessed.

Thomas Van Benschoten made greater than 2,000 totally different items of paintings all through his life, many of which have been replicas of Cincinnati historic landmarks. (Photo: Thanks to Linda Van Benschoten)

When I talked to his spouse, Linda, final week, she stated it was a routine they carried over of their residence as a pair, a lot to my delight.

She requested him that query Monday, March 25, as he hesitated backing out of a room in his wheelchair. His reply: “I’m okay.” In lower than a minute, Thom, 72, was gone. 

His bride, who would have been married to him 50 years June 21, is not actually certain what led to his final moments, although she suspects it was his coronary heart situation. She is definite he died precisely the best way he wished: At residence, peacefully, shortly and with out fanfare.

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Well, we have to give him a little fanfare to make sure this amazing man and his artwork aren’t forgotten. Linda said she caught herself turning to tell him about the cincinnati.com gallery, which has been possible thanks to our current and former coworkers who shared the gifts he shared with them. 

“Thom was the perfect newspaper artist – creative, distinct and expressive while also real and honest,” wrote Mark Motz, another coworker. “It was a joy to be in the room when he drew.”

His work was mostly pen and ink, with some pencil art sprinkled in there, that he drew from photographs.

His art, his Linda, his children and their children were the loves of his life. His love for art and Linda blossomed while he attended the William E. Gebhardt Art School. He had started that school at age 13, which was once located on Fifth Street, around where Procter & Gamble’s property is now. He met Linda there five years later.

A Bishop Brossart High School graduate, Thom took a job at the now-defunct “Images” company after finishing art school and eventually settled into a position at Suburban Typographics in 1969. He was with that company until his retirement in 2008, when its name was The Community Press & Recorder.

During his 39 years with the various suburban newspapers, he blessed each of us with a pen-and-ink drawing every Christmas. I have a framed color pencil drawing in my dining room of a tree located on his brother Bob’s property in Camp Springs, Kentucky. Besides those gifts, he’d also make special portraits of our coworkers’ children or pets as a more personal good-bye when they took new jobs or moved to new cities.

As mentioned, he wanted no fanfare when it was his time to leave us. He didn’t want services. He just wanted his body donated to the University of Cincinnati. 

The Madisonville resident is survived by his wife, Linda Roat Van Benschoten, their sons David, Matthew (Tonya) and Nicholas, and their grandchildren, Alex, Ben, Cameron, Deanna, Emma and Felicity. Nick’s girlfriend, Lisanne St-Onge, will give birth to their seventh grandchild, a girl, Ivy, this year.

Linda estimated Thom produced 2,000 pieces of art in his lifetime. The remaining prints of his collection are available for purchase and run at least $30, depending on the print or its availability.

It would be my honor to serve Linda and their family by connecting potential purchasers with her, to make sure future sales of his legacy go “well.”

God speed, dear friend.

Melanie Laughman is the digital preps planning editor for high school sports. She periodically writes a column, Take 5, on family-related issues. You can reach her via Twitter at @mlaughman or by email at mlaughman@enquirer.com. 

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