Sean Smith was kind enough to reach out this morning to inform me that Willi Benz passed away a few days ago. His web site is located here.

Mr. Benz was instrumental in bringing suiseki to Europe and his many friends worldwide will miss him.

Willi Benz received a National Decoration Award from the Federal Republic of Germany.

Willi Benz received a National Decoration Award from the Federal Republic of Germany.

Below is a Google Translation from the bonsai-fachforum.de web site.


The Announcement from Bonsai Club of Germany

{I have have not altered the translation so as to not add or detract anything that was posted, but understand this is a computerized translation of this text.}

The Bonsai Club of Germany is mourning his honorary member Willi Benz. After suffering heavy yesterday he slept peacefully at home in Baden, one ketch, as his wife Gudrun announced. Benz was 80 years old.

The name of Willi Benz is inextricably linked to the development of Bonsai and Suiseki in Germany and Europe combined. Born in Heidelberg had engaged intensively since 1960 with Asian art and had thus come into contact with bonsai. Benz studied with the great Japanese bonsai masters in China and also won a deep insight into the traditional Chinese art forms.

Benz in 1978 was co-founder of the “Bonsai Club of Germany” (BCD) and motor in the founding of the “German Suiseki Society”. As president of the “European Suiseki Association,” as Vice President of “International Stone Appreciation Museum” in China, “International Stone Collection Association”, the “Bonsai Clubs International” (BCI) and an honorary member of other national and international associations was Benz – always supported by his wife Gudrun – as long as his health permitted it, the world tirelessly for the spread of Bonsai and Suiseki active. Only in December last year, he returned from one of his many trips to Asia.

Also available as an author, Willi Benz had a reputation acquired in the professional world. His writings on Chinese Bonsai and Suiseki, and on “Bonsai, Kusamono, Suiseki – Practical guide for the design of arrangements with plants and stones” were and are highly valued. The club magazine of the BCD Benz was connected virtually from its inception. In his many contributions, he was not only a renowned connoisseur of Bonsai and Suiseki, he took readers deep into the whole world of eastern art and spirituality.

The relentless use of Willi Benz has been widely appreciated. Even in Japan, the motherland of Bonsai and Suiseki, his commitment has found the proper recognition and was awarded the “Order of the Rising Sun” (Kyokujitsushō). This is the highest Japanese order, which can be awarded to foreigners. Also, the Federal Republic of Germany recognized the tireless volunteer efforts by Willi Benz and drew out the birthday boy with the Federal Cross of Merit.

The Friends of Bonsai and Suiseki Benz Will lose a defining personality. His sure, unerring verdict is absent, as are his words of warning. His wife, Gudrun is in these difficult days, our deepest sympathy.

Willi – we will miss you.

Willi Benz's Makko-ishi (7 3/8 inches)

Willi Benz's Makko-ishi (7 3/8 inches)