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Charles Benton, Champion of the Public Interest in Telecom, Passes

| Written by Lisa Gonzalez | No Comments | Updated on May 1, 2015 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

The world of media education, communication policy, and philanthropy is mourning the loss of Charles Benton who passed away on April 29. He lived a long life encouraging and empowering individuals and communities to use technology to improve their quality of life. But beyond that, specifically working to remove barriers that discourage historically marginalized communities from benefiting from communications technologies.

In addition to serving on the National Museum and Library Services Board for the Obama Administration, Charles advised President Bill Clinton as a member of the Parental Advisory Committee on the Public Interest Obligation of Digital Television Broadcasters.

He also served his country as Chairman of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS) and as Chairman of the First White House Conference on Library and Information Services, held in November of 1979. He continued to serve on the NCLIS for another five years, during which time he was unanimously elected Chairman Emeritus.

He and his wife, Marjorie, established the Benton Foundation in honor of his father, William, a public servant and U.S. Senator.

These are only a few of his many accomplishments. Throughout his life, Charles Benton shined the spotlight on the link between communications, media, education, and democracy. To learn more about his life and his achievements, read his obituary on the Benton Foundation website.

This from Chris:

We are deeply saddened at Charles’ passing but incredibly inspired by his life. Every time we interacted with Charles, we came away with fresh energy to work in this space. I cannot think of a time when he wasn’t smiling during our conversations — his passion and optimism will carry on.

Charles Benton, and support from the Benton Foundation, were instrumental in our ability to publish Broadband At the Speed of Light: How Three Communities Built Next-Generation Networks. The report is an in-depth look at the municipal fiber optic networks in Chattanooga, TN, Lafayette, LA, and Bristol, VA.

We miss you, Charles.

Photo of Charles Benton from the Benton Foundation

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About Lisa Gonzalez

Lisa Gonzalez researches and reports on telecommunications and municipal networks’ impact on life at the local level. Lisa has worked in politics, education, and as a freelance journalist. In addition to her contributions at, Lisa writes for and produces the Broadband Bits podcast. More

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