The Wyoming Archaeological Society

Wyoming Association of Professional Archaeologists


Jim, 72, acclaimed Colorado geologist and archaeologist died peacefully on Tuesday, March 8, 2011, at his mountain home west of Jamestown in the guardian shadow of Sawtooth Peak. Jim was surrounded by and in the loving embrace of his family after a long brave struggle with Alzheimer’s and a short, fierce battle with kidney cancer.

Jim was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on November 11, 1938 to the late James Bell Benedict, Sr. and Katharine Taft Benedict. His survivors include Audrey DeLella Benedict, his loving wife and partner of 41 years, his former wife Diane Goode Benedict of Lyons, son Robert J. and wife, Margie Villegas Benedict, and grandchildren Steven, Lauren, and Jayne of Longmont, and his beloved black Lab, Scruggs. After graduating from Phillips Andover Academy, Jim served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Jim received his B.A. in Geology from the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1961 and his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1968. As a research scientist with CU’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research from 1961 to 1970, Jim conducted periglacial studies in the tundra of Niwot Ridge. In 1971 he left academia to form the Center for Mountain Archaeology.

​The loss of Jim Benedict is felt deeply by his family and the many friends who loved him. He was an extraordinary husband, father, grandfather, and friend – just a boy himself in the way he embraced life and everyone around him. The true home of his heart was always in the Colorado mountains, especially the alpine tundra of the nearby Indian Peaks Wilderness. His dedication to conservation stewardship remains a lasting legacy and lives on in each of us. Private memorial services are planned for March 27, 2011. Cremation has been entrusted to Howe Mortuary. Contributions in Jim’s memory may be directed to Hospice Care of Boulder and Broomfield Counties ( ) or to the James and Audrey Benedict Mountain Archaeology Fund at Colorado State University (