Kenneth Edward Bentsen

November 21, 1926September 24, 2013
Obituary of Kenneth Edward Bentsen
Kenneth Edward Bentsen died Tuesday morning, the 24th of September 2013 in Houston, Texas. Bentsen was a prominent architect in Houston spanning over four decades. He was married to the former, Mary Dorsey Bates for 60 years, who survives him. He attended the School of Architecture at the University of Texas, where he was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity. In his sophomore year, he enlisted in the Naval Air Corps. Following the completion of his military service he entered the new College of Architecture at the University of Houston. He graduated in 1952 with Bachelor Degrees in Science and Architecture. He had the good fortune to be a student of both Donald Barthelme and Howard Barnstone. The University of Houston hosts the Kenneth E. Bentsen Architectural Papers in the UH Libraries Special Collections. His first practical experience was with the firm Mackie and Kamrath. In 1958, he opened Kenneth Bentsen Associates Architects where he practiced until 1991. He chose to sell the firm following the completion of one of his most interesting projects, the 1,038,000 square foot Texas Children’s Hospital Complex in the Texas Medical Center. It was the largest children’s hospital in the United States at that time. One of his favorite commissions was the City of Houston Summit Sports Arena, the original home of the Houston Rockets, which is now Lakewood Church. Another favorite was the Southwest Tower of the Bank of the Southwest. Perhaps the most rewarding of all of his projects was the opportunity to design 18 structures at Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas, now the University of Texas – Pan Am. He also designed the State Bar Center in Austin, the Graduate School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin, the William Levin Learning Center and the Allied Health and Nursing School at University of Texas, Galveston, Agnes Arnold Hall and Phillip Guthrie Hoffman Hall at the University of Houston. For the Agnes Arnold Hall, he received the Award of Merit for Achievement of Excellence from the U.S. Office of Education, the American Institute of Architects and the Distinguished Alumnus Award for Architectural Excellence from the University of Houston. The firm’s design excellence was recognized with more than 100 architectural design awards. In 1971, Kenneth was inducted into the American Institute of Architecture College of Fellows (F.A.I.A.) in the category; Excellence of Design. He was the first graduate of the University of Houston to be so honored. He served on the National American Institute of Architects Committee on Design, The Houston and Texas Chapters of the American Institute of Architects, the Texas Commission on the Arts, as well as the boards of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Gallery at the University of Houston and Texas Children’s Hospital. Kenneth was born in Mission, Texas on the 21st of November 1926 to Edna Colbath Bentsen and Lloyd M. Bentsen, Sr., who preceded him in death. In addition to his wife, he is survived by children, Molly Bates Bentsen, Betty Bentsen Newton and husband Stephen, Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr. and wife Tamra, William Lloyd Bentsen; grandchildren, Emmie Bentsen Zimmerman and husband Zachary, Elizabeth Newton, Louise Bentsen, Camille Newton and Meredith Bentsen; and great grandchildren, Chloe Zimmerman and Bentsen Zimmerman. He is also survived by his sister, Betty Bentsen Winn of McAllen; and sister-in-law, B.A. Bentsen of Houston; and many beloved cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brothers Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. and Donald L. Bentsen and his wife Nell. The family wishes to thank his devoted care givers Carla Maria Riviera, Amanda Sazera, Timothy Guzman, Derek Lewis, Desiree Liggan and Ernestine Reason. Friends are cordially invited to gather with the family and share remembrances of Kenneth during a reception from five o’clock in the afternoon until eight o’clock in the evening on Friday, the 27th of September, at his daughter’s residence. The memorial service is to be conducted at eleven o’clock in the morning on Saturday, the 28th of September, in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church, 5300 Main Street in Houston, where Dr. Bill Heston, Executive Pastor, is to officiate. Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family during a reception at the church. In lieu of customary remembrances, and for those desiring, contributions may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 5300 Main St, Houston, TX, 77004; Texas Children’s Hospital, 6621 Fannin St., Houston, TX, 77030; the Kenneth E. Bentsen Architectural Papers at the University of Houston Libraries, The University of Houston,114 University Libraries, Houston, TX, 77204; the Gerald Hines College of Architecture, University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun Rd, Houston, TX, 77004; or the charity of one’s choice.

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