George Joseph Benda, Jr., (1953-2020) received a Bachelor of Science degree from Rockford College in 1975 and his Master of Science degree from the University of Chicago in 1977. He spent his career in the field of environmental sustainability and energy management.
Prior to retirement in 2018, Benda was owner of Chelsea Group, Ltd., a leading firm in building science consulting, which he founded in 1990.
Benda had served on the board of directors of the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), Hawaii Chapter. Previously, he served the national AEE as chair of the Board of Certification of Indoor Air Quality Professionals. He was named regional “Energy Professional of the Year” by AEE in 2005. Just this year, Benda had been honored with induction into the AEE’s prestigious “AEE Energy Managers Hall of Fame” in recognition of his lifetime achievements in promoting the practices and principles of energy management.
Benda also had served two terms on the board of directors for the Building Owners and Managers Association of Hawaii (BOMA) and had remained active in that organization. He also was a member of NAIOP (National Association for Industrial and Office Parks), and was active in ASHRAE Hawaii (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), having previously served on national ASHRAE committees.
Prior to starting Chelsea Group, Benda was president and chairman of the board of HEC Energy Corp., and served as the director of energy programs for the State of Illinois.
He had authored papers and presentations for BOMA International, ASHRAE, AEE, and the American Hospital Association, among others. He also was the author of a series of novels: The City, The Edge, The River, and The Farm. He had completed a fifth novel in the series, Dialogues of the Loon, which will soon be published. He’d already begun writing the sixth novel in the series and had planned to have 10 books in the complete series.
Benda was a founding member, along with his wife, of the Hawaiian musical group “Na Ohana Hoaloha,” which began in 2004. He was guitarist, singer, and composer for the group, which had just begun resuming informal practice sessions in recent weeks following a pause due to the pandemic, with the most recent session the day before his unexpected death.
He also helped to found the Aka’ula School in Kualapu’u, Hawaii, on the island of Molokai. A small, independent school, it is known for its award-winning environmental education program and rigorous academic standards.
George Joseph Benda, Jr., 67, died suddenly at his Maunaloa home on the West End of Molokai, Hawaii, on Oct. 19, 2020. Benda was born Oct. 12, 1953, in Berwyn, Illinois, to George Joseph Benda, Sr., and Jamilla (Domansky) Benda of LaGrange, Illinois, both now deceased. He was predeceased by a brother, Robert Benda. He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Patricia (Turner) Benda of Maunaloa, Hawaii; his sister, Joan (Benda) Wolfe Galena, Illinois, and her husband, Paul Wolfe; and nieces Laurie Benda and Christine Benda, and nephew Zach Wolfe. The family will observe Benda’s wishes for no service, but Pat Benda is planning a Celebration of Life for a later date, likely in the early months of 2021. For those wishing to honor Benda’s memory, memorial donations may be made to the AEE Foundation or the Aka’ula School, P.O. BOX 2098, Kaunakakai, HI, 96748, or via the school’s website: www.akaula.org.