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President of Influential Search Institute Dies of Cancer

Peter Benson was 65.

Peter Benson, president of Search Institute, passed away on Sunday at the age of 65. He had lived with colon cancer during the past year.

Peter was a visionary who years ago pondered the question: "Why do we always ask what is wrong with kids? Why don't we ask what is right about kids?" This resulted in the creation of the Developmental Assets, 40 resources, relationships and characteristics all kids need.

In 1993, St. Louis Park became Search Institute's learning laboratory as the first community to take this pioneering research and transform it into community action. Peter and his staff worked side-by-side with community leaders as the initiative launched, and over the years worked closely with St. Louis Park on innovations, most recently the expansion of Building Assets Reducing Risks (BARR) at the high school through the . Peter became an international leader and today, the assets are used in 600 communities in 60 countries.

Peter's wife Tunie Munson-Benson taught at and developed the Book Nook Program.  His daughter Liv graduated from and his son Kai graduated from the Perpich Center for Arts Education. Funeral services are pending.

Andi Larsen October 05, 2011 at 11:33 AM
What a terrible loss to all of us. The Benson Family has our deepest sympathies. Andrea Larsen and Bill Youmans
Karen Waters October 06, 2011 at 03:25 AM
Peter was a true visionary. It was wonderful to meet him during a Children First Annual Meeting when he was sharing his Sparks research with our community. It was terrific watching SLP students involved with the Youth Development Committee assist with sharing this message of adults helping kids connect with their "sparks" through their Flash Mob at the Ice Cream Social and the video featuring SLP students talking about Sparks that was shared worldwide. Our community has truly benefitted from Peter's work and as Asset Champions I think we all feel a tremendous responsibility to see this legacy carry on into the next generations. Our deepest sympathies to the Benson family at this time. Best Regards, the Djerf Family
Joan Brinkman October 06, 2011 at 01:44 PM
Peter truly understood that to make change for children we need to look at every aspect of their lives. The 40 assets offered a tangible way to work with this huge undertaking and make progress. His "sparks" will continue to send his message throughout the world. What a legacy he has left to millions. Joan Brinkman

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