Longtime campus 'resident' Ben Lane dies

"It is a wonderful experience to live so close to an institution you have watched grow," said Ben Lane, sitting in his yellow house on Jordan Road during a May 2007 interview with the Erie Times-News.

Ben Lane, associate professor emeritus of English at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, died July 15, at Twinbrook Medical Center after a brief stay. He was 88.

In 1953, Ben said, "I do," to his wife, Carolyn, and to Penn State Behrend, a mere five-year-old center nestled on Glenhill Farm, the estate of Ernst and Mary Behrend. The couple first lived on campus until later moving to their current home on Jordan Road, and watched as the college grew around them over the years.

Ben Lane joined the faculty as an instructor in English and German. Throughout his tenure, he served as associate professor of English and German, dean of Student Affairs and director of Admissions. Lane retired in 1985 after 32 years at the campus.

To honor his commitment to Penn State Behrend, the Benjamin A. Lane Outstanding Service Award was established in the spring of 1985. The award honors a faculty or staff member who has demonstrated outstanding service and dedication to the campus -- inside or outside the classroom -- as exemplified by Lane.

After retiring, Lane wrote the book "Behrend Remembered," an informal history of the campus, and made the effort to stay connected to Penn State Behrend.

"We're in the middle of it all right here," Carolyn said in that same May 2007 interview. "Every window we look out, we see young people coming and going."

Ben Lane was born on June 13, 1923, in Ashland, Pa. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn; two daughters, Ann Lane Umbach, and her husband, David, of Durham, N.C., and Kate Delfino and her husband, Joseph, of Atkinson, N.H.; two grandsons, Joseph Benjamin Delfino and Nicholas Perri Delfino of Atkinson, N.H.; sister, Edith Lane Hoffman of Ashland; and a number of nieces and nephews.

Lane served in the U.S. Army where he operated radios on C-47 aircraft in the Philippines and Australia. He attended Penn State University Park on the G.I. Bill, and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 4701 Old French Rd., Erie, PA 16509. To send condolences, visit

Penn State Behrend is planning a campus memorial service and will announce details at a future date.

Ben Lane with his book Credit: Penn State Behrend / Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated October 17, 2019