Leonard F. Benckenstein II

July 17, 1944 ~ June 13, 2022 (age 77)


The son of the late Charles H. Benckenstein Jr. and Clare Helbing Benckenstein, Leonard Frederick Benckenstein II, known by all as “Fred” (or “Freddie” in his younger years), was born on July 17, 1944 in Orange Texas, and passed away on June 13, 2022 in Houston, Texas.
Fred was a gentleman, a loving and devoted spouse and father, an avid scholar of life, a renaissance man. No subject was unknown to him; his curiosity was boundless. A true explorer, it began with adventures in the woods of Orange, Texas and the swampy lands of Louisiana- hunting for snakes, building tunnels, climbing trees, chasing and studying wildlife. Upon completion of High School in Beaumont, Fred studied at Tulane University, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture and moved to Atlanta to begin work at John Portman & Associates. Many years later, his family was fortunate enough to see him receive his Master’s Degree at Tulane University. 
While at Portman, he rose in the ranks due to his great leadership, work ethic, and talent. He was a remarkable young professional who project managed the Brussels International Trade Mart. He continued to rise over the years to the position of Vice President in Business, and was a key figure in its development and management. He spearheaded numerous international projects from the United States, to Europe, to the Middle East, to the Pacific Rim and China. From the Shanghai Center Nanjing Road (1980’s), to the development of Singapore’s Marina Square and Regent Singapore Hotel, to the New York Times Square Marriott Marquis Hotel, to Europe’s Brussels Trade Mart (Belgium) and Disneyland Paris (France). 
After over 19 years with John Portman and Associates, he was hired by Michael Eisner from The Walt Disney Company as Sr. Vice President - Project Management and President of Euro Disney Imagineering, to run the Disneyland Paris project. Here he was responsible for the theme park design, engineering, and construction. He led this nearly $1.2 billion project, one of great complexity, with an 850-member team including 14 direct reports and 1500 subcontractors.
After leaving The Walt Disney Company, he began his own international project management-consulting firm. Among his clients was Bovis International based in London. Here, he worked on future company growth and strategic analysis, focusing on regions such as Eastern/Western Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and other parts of Africa. Furthermore, he developed an international Design Management Activity Matrix and Handbook for the Portuguese Government and the Lisbon Expo ’98.
He then moved to Houston with his family and formed a partnership with his friend Louis Frey known as Benckenstein & Frey Architects, providing full architectural, project management, and design services. Projects included university housing, low-income housing, corporate retreats, and urban planning studies and research for two metropolitan areas in Houston.
Fred’s family meant the world to him. His meeting Donatella marked the beginning of a happy marriage filled with adventure, discovery, and love. He was very proud of his family. A few of his favorite pastimes were annual projects together, largely for Halloween, building a treehouse, an armadillo enclosure, and
countless others. He was creative, sculpted in his earlier days, loved to draw, and read voraciously. Together, he and Donatella served on several Boards, and supported numerous Houston nonprofits including Houston Grand Opera, Asia Society Texas, Baylor College of Medicine’s Huffington Center on Aging,and Texan French Alliance for the Arts to name a few.
He leaves behind his wife of over 30 years, Donatella Basile Benckenstein, his son Alistair Frederick Benckenstein, his older brother and spouse Steven C. and Claire Benckenstein of Spring, Texas, his sister Margaret Alma Benckenstein of Beaumont, his sister-in-law, Janet Winger Benckenstein of Lufkin, and his many Helbing and Benckenstein cousins, nieces, and nephews.
The family will receive guests from ten o’clock in the morning until one o’clock in the afternoon with a Celebration of Life service beginning at half past ten o’clock on Thursday, June 30, 2022 at Bradshaw-Carter Memorial & Funeral Services 1734 West Alabama Street in Houston. For those who are more comfortable wearing masks, we encourage them to do so. 
The family wishes to express their gratitude to Dr. Alan Hoffman, M.D., for his longstanding support and excellent care and to Sandra and Esther his loving caregivers.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Parkinson’s disease or Juvenile Diabetes research.



June 30, 2022

10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Bradshaw - Carter Memorial

Celebration of Life
June 30, 2022

10:30 AM
Bradshaw - Carter Memorial


Houston Area Parkinson Society
2700 Southwest Freeway, Suite 296, Houston TX 77098
Web: http://

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
200Vesey Street, 28th Floor, New York NY 10281

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