NORMAN — Ben Benedum, a Norman attorney for the past 48 years, has closed his practice and moved from the offices in the First Fidelity Bank Building for a small office in west Norman where he will manage his business interests.
The end of the Benedum and Benedum law practice, which until recent years employed as many as six other attorneys, is the end of a firm established by his grandfather, Ben Williams, and father, T.R. (Tom) Benedum. Williams and his son-in-law opened a law practice in 1932 and were the first second-floor tenants in the building now home to the First Fidelity Bank.
In 1965, young Ben Benedum finished law school and joined his father and grandfather with a general law practice.
“In the beginning I handled everything,” he said, citing the two spectrums on the happiness scale of an attorney’s cases, adoptions and divorces. “Adoptions are fun. Divorces are the worst. I quit doing divorces years ago. Nobody goes to an attorney when they are happy.”
His practice evolved into estate planning and real estate law and he played a part in the development of much of Norman and its growth in the 40 years.
“When I started, there was nothing west of Berry Road.”
Little by little, he helped developers who secured parcels of land and began building houses.
“It went from wheat to three bedroom houses.”
He regards his developer clients highly, saying “I have found them to be astute, honorable and hard-working” and well-versed on the laws that govern their businesses.
It has been an amazing journey for a man whose grandparents were living on land near Porter Avenue and Robinson Street before statehood and who grew up at a time “when you could ride your bicycle all over town. There were 5,000 people and you knew nearly everyone.”
Benedum had a degree in business administration from the University of Oklahoma and was in law school when his Army unit was activated during the Berlin Crisis in the early 1960s.
“I was honorable discharged as a captain in the Military Police Corps,” Benedum said.
Returning to school, he finished the law degree in 1965 and he went into practice with his father. T. R. Benedum, now deceased, retired in 1991.
While practicing law and raising a family, Benedum gave back to the university and community he loves in many ways, including serving on the board of the OU Foundation. He also has served on the Norman Area Land Conservancy board as well as the boards of the Cleveland County YMCA, Jacobson House art center and the Norman Community Foundation. He and his wife, Jane, are active in St. John’s Episcopal Church.
He also served as a director at the local and state level of the American Cancer Society, service he refers to as “a privilege as a cancer survivor.” A dozen years ago, Benedum had surgery for prostate cancer and says he’s “on a soap box to tell every man over 40 to get tested.”
Closing the Benedum and Benedum Inc. office has meant dispersing thousands of files to the clients. Helping in that process has been Tricia Newman, who has been with him for 28 years and who he refers to as “a faithful assistant.”
Benedum is quick to correct anyone who uses the wrong word for his future.
“I am not retiring, I am rejuvenating,” he said.