Former Florida and West Central Florida ASA Commissioner Carlton Benton, Jr. (also affectionately known as “Big ‘Un” and CB) passed away on July 5, 2022.
As a Navy brat, Carlton was born on June 14, 1947, in Jacksonville, FL. He had many fond memories of growing up in Fallon, NV, and Puerto Rico. In 1961, after his father’s retirement from the U.S. Navy, his family settled in Lakeland, FL. He loved his days at Kathleen High School and remained in contact with many of his fellow Red Devils.
In 1974 he found his calling and began a rewarding and much loved 30-year career with the City of Lakeland. Through these years he thrived in a variety of roles with a passion for both youth and adult sports programs. He had a great love for sports officiating, and you can find him on a variety of fields or courts. In 1986 he jumped into the national softball scene by attending the Amateur Softball Association National Council Meeting in Hawaii, making Lakeland’s first bid on a national tournament. His trip was a success, and the next year Lakeland hosted the ASA Men’s Major Industrial National Tournament. This tournament would be the first of many to make a significant positive economic impact on the area. He would continue to pursue his passion for softball by serving as the commissioner for West Central Florida ASA and eventually in his current role as the State Commissioner for USA Softball Florida. His dedication and love for the softball community was unparalleled.
Another passion of his was coaching girls’ volleyball. In the fall of 1984, many special memories (and maybe a few frustrations) were made when he coached Natalie’s high school team. It brought him much joy to have started Polk County’s first travel volleyball program that continues to thrive today.
He enjoyed traveling with a particular love of out west including Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks. He truly had a love for people and helping others. He was known for his great sense of humor and big heart. He was especially gifted in the area of sarcasm and eye rolling.
His greatest love and source of pride was his two daughters and two granddaughters.
Carlton was greeted in heaven by his parents Carlton and Mable Benton, and his especially loved Aunt Clara and Aunt Mary.
Survivors include his wife Wanda of nearly 30 years, daughters Natalie (Larry) Connell of Thomasville, GA; Michelle (Davy) Beerman of Lakeland; Granddaughters Harli and Lauren; Brothers Andrew (Diana) Young and Clinton (Linda) Benton; Brother-in-law Bill (Dorie) Koch. Nieces and Nephews “Little” Andy (Go Cowboys!), Cali B., Miranda, Jami, and Lisa and many loved cousins and other extended family members and friends.
Carlton to softball was an innovator. One of his ideas was to create the JO Cup for ASA girls fastpitch. He wrote legislation for it and when it was shot down he stood up at the microphone and announced, “Well I am running it anyway!”