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Posted on: June 28, 2023

PRESS RELEASE (6-28-23): Woodall Family Donates Benches for Town Hall

If you find yourself resting in front of Benson’s Town Hall near the entrance of the WJ Barefoot Auditorium, you might not notice, but the bench you’re sitting on is no ordinary seat. 

Some years back, when the Town of Benson was deciding on seating for Main Street and other public areas, they decided to start a dedication program. Look closer at certain benches around town and you’ll see they tell a story. 

The two benches in front of Town Hall are some of the latest to be donated in the “Adopt-A-Bench” program by Charles Woodall Jr., Ronnie Woodall, and Debbie Woodall Jones. 

The three chose to honor the memory of several family members and Benson residents — all with a unique place in the town’s history. 

On the first bench in front of Town Hall you will find a plaque inscribed “In Memory of Louise Stewart Woodall — Assistant Town Clerk” and “Charles Oliver Woodall — Assistant Police Chief.” 

Louise Woodall was the mother of the bench donors — Charles, Ronnie, and Debbie. She worked as Assistant Town Clerk in Benson from 1962 to 1991. She passed away in 2021 at the age of 95. According to a Benson Review article from 1977 in the “Know Your Town Employees” column, Mrs. Woodall worked at Acme Cleaners in Benson before starting her career at Town Hall and was also a clerk for the Benson District Recorders Court from 1962 to 1968. 

Her husband, Charles Woodall, was Benson’s Assistant Police Chief throughout the 1950s and 1960s. He was a 1943 graduate of Benson High School and worked five years on the Atlantic Coastline Railroad before spending eight years with the Benson Police Department. 

The interest in law enforcement must have been a Woodall family trait because Mr. Woodall’s father — Tommie Woodall — was Benson’s second Police Chief, which brings us to the second inscription. 

On the opposite side of the first bench, a plaque honors the memories of Tommie Woodall and his wife Elgie Woodall. 

Chief Woodall was born in 1901. He resigned from the Benson Police Department in 1945 and passed away a short time later in 1946. You might recognize his likeness from the Town of Benson’s 2019 calendar, which featured historic images collected from the Benson Museum of Local History. In the selected photo taken in 1945, Chief Woodall is leaning next to his police cruiser. 

His wife, Elgie Woodall, lived along East Hill Street in Benson in what is locally known as the “Dixie House.” She worked at Woodall’s Department Store on Main Street for more than 25 years. 

The second bench in front of Town Hall has another plaque that reads “In Memory of Herbert Battle Stewart — Benson Merchant for 65 Years” and “Mollie Woodall Stewart — Wife and Mother to Five Daughters.” 

Mr. Stewart was born in 1882 and passed away in 1971 — in those decades he helped to shape the commerce of the Town of Benson. 

Starting his career in business as a young boy at his uncle’s grocery on Benson’s Main Street, Mr. Stewart never left the mercantile world, going on to work at larger area businesses until eventually landing a deal to manage and oversee several of the wholesale and retail operations of the Preston Woodall stores, which were thriving at the time. 

Mr. Stewart married Mollie Stewart in 1907, an old article from the Benson Review describes Ms. Stewart’s family as “outstanding pioneer residents of the Benson vicinity” and goes on to say her dress was “high fashion of the era” with four rows of white satin ribbon around the base. In their later years, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart retired on an 80-acre farm near Benson. 

The opposite side plaque on the second bench has a simple, but poignant inscription. 

“In Loving Tribute to Those We’ve Lost.” 

For more information about Benson’s Adopt-A-Bench program contact Benson Public Information Officer Tyler Douglas at 919-894-3553 or email 

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