IVANO SAYS: The following Remembrance of Norman Benito was first published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel: www.santacruzsentinel.com
Norman J. Benito May 29, 1931 - January 27, 2014Resident of Santa CruzNorman Joseph Benito, passed away peacefully on January 27, 2014 at Stanford University Medical Center surrounded by his loving family. He was 82.Norman was born in Santa Cruz at Sister's Hospital on May 29, 1931. He grew up in Santa Cruz and was a graduate of Holy Cross High School where he lettered in football, baseball, and basketball. When he was sixteen he got a part time job at Brenkwitz Mortuary (then located on Laurel St.), there he developed an interest in helping people during their time of loss. Following his high school graduation he enrolled at San Francisco College of Mortuary Science, where he graduated with a degree in mortuary science. He served for four years in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War as a Corpsman. First stationed at Oakland Naval Hospital, and then overseas on the USS James E. Kyes. During his military service, Norman received numerous decorations.In 1948 he met the love of his life, the neighbor girl from across the street, Maureen Bregante. It was a love affair that lasted 65 years. In 1953, Norman and Maureen were married in Holy Cross Catholic Church. They lived for a short time in Long Beach until his discharge from the Navy, they then returned to Santa Cruz County where he worked at Mehl's Mortuary in Watsonville. He later returned to Santa Cruz where he worked for over twenty years at White's Mortuary. In 1976, he ventured into business starting his own funeral home, Norman's Family Chapel. Truly a family enterprise he worked with his wife, son, father, father in law and mother in law. In 1993, he sold the business upon retirement.Norman was member of Holy Cross Church his entire life. He was also active in countless organizations many of which he served as an officer or president. He was a fifty year member of the Santa Cruz Elks Lodge, Marconi Club where he served two terms as club president, Knights of Columbus, CPDES, Italian Catholic Federation and the Sons of Italy where he was named "Man of the Year". He also served on the boards of Dominican Hospital Foundation, Santa Clara University, the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Cruz and the California Funeral Directors Association. He was formerly a member of the Surf City Kiwanis Club where he served as club president, the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Druids.He was a generous man with a big heart and had a deep caring for children. In his life he contributed generously to under privileged children and to Saint Jude's. He was also very active in youth sports including Santa Cruz Little League, where he and others started the T-Ball League for younger children. He also served as league president and coached for many years. He was an active supporter and fund raiser for Marello Prep High School. He was an avid sports fan and loved the Forty Niners and the Giants. In his younger years, Norman enjoyed deep sea fishing with his wife and son on the Stagnaro family fishing charters. He also enjoyed vacations to Clear Lake with his cousins Ervin and Anita Pate and their children. Following his retirement, Norman enjoyed playing golf having participated in countless golf tournaments including many of the Italian Opens held in Reno and the Frank Sinatra Invitational Golf Tournaments in Palm Springs. He also enjoyed spending time on his boat and at his vacation home in Lake Tahoe. He was an avid card player and was a regular at the Poker tables at Bay 101 in San Jose. He also enjoyed many trips and cruises, having traveled to Alaska, the Orient, Europe, South Africa and Hawaii. He also played the trumpet, the accordion and the organ.He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Maureen Benito of Santa Cruz; his son, Gary Benito and his wife Valerie of Santa Cruz; his granddaughter, Emily Benito. He is also survived by Corinne Niven and her daughter Camille Niven, who he loved as a daughter and granddaughter and several other loving nieces and nephews. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 126 High St., Santa Cruz, CA on Tuesday, February 4 at 10:00 am. A vigil service will be held at Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel, 1050 Cayuga St., Santa Cruz, CA on Monday, February 3 at 7:00 pm. Visitation will be at the chapel on Monday from 3:00pm until service time. A private entombment will take place at Santa Cruz Memorial Park.
IVANO SAYS (CONT'D) Una vita molto ben fatta. (A life very well done (lived). Addio Norman. Until we meet again across "Il Ultimo Ponte". (The Last Bridge)