Not many people look forward to the annual obligation of filing a tax return. Andrew Benjamin relished tax season.
“He loved preparing taxes,” said Katy Schultz, the tax and financial service director for St. Paul-based nonprofit Prepare + Prosper.
Benjamin volunteered for the nonprofit, which provides free tax preparation and financial advice for low-income clients, for nearly four decades.
“Our foundation was founded with the idea that people who don’t have the means shouldn’t have to sacrifice to get them [taxes] done,” said Schultz. “It’s a crucial function. Mandatory, and it can be confusing for many people. He enjoyed being able to help people.”
Benjamin, of Mankato, died June 30. He was 85.
Benjamin was a prolific tax preparer. While working for H.B. Fuller Co. in St. Paul, he volunteered two days a week with Prepare + Prosper. After retiring, he volunteered five days a week, frequently donating 40 to 50 hours a week.
“After finishing a five- or six-hour shift,” said Schultz, “he would be running out to a second location for another shift.”
In a story published on the nonprofit’s website in 2017, Benjamin estimated that he had prepared 26,000 returns as a volunteer over the years.
In the story, Benjamin said he enjoyed the interaction with customers and other volunteers. “It feels good to be of service,” he said. “Prepare + Prosper’s work and tax refunds are so important because they help people get out of the poverty that they are experiencing.”
Benjamin added, “I was destined to be an accountant.”
His first job, as a paperboy, taught him to keep track of his income and expenses as a youth in Hutchinson, Minn.
Schultz said Benjamin was in a category of his own among the organization’s many fabulous volunteers. “He was one of a kind,” she said. “He had such a heart for service.”
Former Star Tribune editor Bob Schafer, who volunteered at the nonprofit, said, “Andy always said he loved doing taxes, but what I think he really meant was that he loved the joy of making sure people in need could receive the tax refunds that their lives depended on.”
Benjamin was born to Lillian and Benjamin Benjamin in 1934 in Hutchinson. After graduating from Hutchinson High School, he earned a degree in business administration and accounting from Macalester College in St. Paul.
He served in the Army, stationed at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana, before returning to St. Paul.
He spent 35 years at H.B. Fuller as a controller. He provided financial oversight of the company’s local manufacturing plants and regional offices.
He began volunteering with Prepare + Prosper in 1982, when it was called the Minnesota Accounting Aid Society. He also volunteered as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army every holiday season, conducted prison ministry and volunteered at Simpson Housing Shelter.
“He continued to volunteer for us until last summer,” said Schultz, “when he and his wife moved to Mankato. I always joked with him that he had volunteered with us longer than I’ve been alive.”
Benjamin and his wife, Audrey, met at Macalester. They were married for 63 years.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by daughters Debra Anderson and Ann Benjamin; sons Andrew Jr. and Tom; eight grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, a brother and two sisters.
Services have been held.