Robert Douglas Benfield
Robert Benfield, now retired and living in Sacramento, California, taught music for nearly forty years in the Seventh-day Adventist school system. For seventeen of those years, 1955 to 1972, he worked in Brazil, where he taught music at Taquara Academy for five years, Brazil College for two years, and then at Sao Paula Academy for ten years. At SPA, he helped establish the music conservatory and traveled extensively throughout Brazil.
During his time in Brazil, Benfield witnessed significant growth and many changes. He enjoyed his work, later remembering his hurried attempts at mastering Portuguese in his first summer there, making band uniforms from scratch at TA, traveling in a Volkswagen van with a marimba group, and accompanying in recording sessions with the newly formed Brazilian Voice of Prophecy quartet. He particularly enjoyed watching the new music conservatory building at SPA being constructed, and assembling and installing a Schober church organ kit for it. He was deeply moved by the experience of working with students who reveled in the sheer pleasure of music making.
Benfield, born near Spokane, Washington, started study on piano at an early age. His interest in music and piano was so intense that his mother had to restrict his practice. He became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church at age 14 and attended Upper Columbia Academy, located near Spokane. Following graduation from academy, he attended Walla Walla College, now University, where he completed a B.Mus.Ed in 1952 with organ as his performance area. He later completed a master's degree in music education at the University of Southern California.
Benfield taught briefly at San Diego Academy before entering military service. He then taught at Bakersfield Junior Academy, before beginning his work in Brazil. On his return to the United States, he taught elementary music at Sacramento Adventist Academy for 24 years, until his retirement in 1995.
Since retirement he has continued to play the organ and direct the choir and handbell choirs at the Sacramento Woodside Adventist church.
Source: Information provided by Robert Benfield, 26 June 2007.