Robert W. Benjamin passed away on Friday, December 9, 2016, at home. He was the husband of the late Gertrude (Fosberry) Benjamin, with whom he shared 61 years of marriage.
Robert was born on February 1, 1927 to Arthur and Emma (Brouilette) Benjamin. He grew up in a large and loving family of 12: eight brothers and three sisters, in Salem and later in Ipswich. “Bye-bye”, as he was known, attended Ipswich High School and after WWII service in the U.S. Navy, returned there to graduate.
Robert and Gertrude met in 1946 at the dance pavilion on Little Neck in Ipswich. He won her heart and they were married in November of 1950. With his encouragement, Gert became an avid skier and they enjoyed many years on the slopes. They were members of the Cape Ann Ski Gulls. Bob and Gert were at home on the dance floor; attending dances regularly throughout their lifetime together.
Bob was a master carpenter. After a career in building, he attended Fitchburg State College and began a second career as a vocational carpentry instructor in the mid-1970’s. He and his partner, John Orlando, taught their students to build an on-site home each school year. Bob continued to build after his retirement until his real retirement in the late 1990’s. John Orlando felt that a person couldn’t ask for a better built home than one Bob had constructed. In his retirement, Robert was active in the lives of his children and his nine grandchildren.
Robert was an avid skier, learning at a young age at his oldest brother Leo’s Frontenac Ski area in Plymouth, N.H. He skied many major mountains in the East and out West; hanging his poles up at the age of seventy-five. Over his lifetime he introduced many families and students to the thrills of skiing, teaching hundreds how to ski. He also loved the beach, had a life-long passion for sailing and was a sports enthusiast.
Robert served in the U.S. Navy during the war. His ship saw duty in the Pacific Theater and he witnessed the signing of the Japanese surrender while moored next to the USS Missouri. Six of his eight brothers served along with him in various branches of the military during the war and all returned home safely.
He was a dedicated veteran, having served as Commander of the Doucette-Lingard VFW post in Gloucester. He was also very active in his USS Oakland Association, hosting one of his ship’s reunions in Gloucester. He served as Secretary to the Oakland group and was instrumental in establishing a public monument of the ship’s mast in Oakland (CA). He designed the memorial plaque which is displayed as part of the monument.
Robert is survived by his four children, David Benjamin and his wife, Sally of Gloucester, Donna Foley and her husband, Michael of Gardner, Joan Houghton and her husband Chuck of Manchester-by-the-Sea and Nancy Benjamin of Gloucester. He is also survived by grandchildren, Gregory and Katy Foley; Alyssa (Benjamin) Teixeira and her husband, Aaron, Jonathan Benjamin and his partner, Megin Sherry and Jesse Benjamin; Hayley, William, Thomas and Christine Houghton. Additionally he is survived by six great-grandchildren, Kenney Houghton, Franklin Benjamin, Margaux Benjamin, Wolfgang Benjamin, Orion Teixeira and Harrison Teixeira. He is also survived by three sisters-in-law, Doris Murphy, Mildred Sanborn and Claire Fosberry, all of Gloucester. He also leaves many nieces, nephews and close friends. In addition to his wife, he was pre deceased by his sibling, Leo, Grace, Hermas, Raymond, George (Henry), Rene, Marilyce (Marie), Adrian, Maurice, Mozart and Lucille.
Robert lived a full and robust life and will be missed by his loving family.
Visiting hours will be held on Tuesday, December 13, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Pike-Newhall Funeral Home on 61 Middle Street, Gloucester. A Memorial Service will be held on Wednesday, December 14, at 10 a.m. at the funeral home. Condolences may be made online at . Donations may be made in his memory to Day By Day (Adult Day Care Center), 4R Blackburn Center, Gloucester, MA 01930, or The Cape Ann Symphony, P.O. Box 1343, Gloucester, MA 01930.