Cover photo for Frank J. Benenati's Obituary
Frank J. Benenati Profile Photo
1927 Frank 2022

Frank J. Benenati

July 22, 1927 — March 21, 2022

Frank J. "Ben" Benenati, Jr., 94, a lifelong resident of Norwich, passed away peacefully after a brief illness on Monday, March 21, 2022, at UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital.

Frank was born in Norwich, on July 22, 1927, the son of the late Frank and Catherine (Paino) Benenati. He grew up on Birdsall Street and attended Norwich Schools. In high school, he worked with the Chenango Ice Cream Company, where he met the owner’s daughter and schoolmate, Dorothy Oates. He graduated from Norwich High School in 1945, a talented three sport athlete of track, basketball, and football. After graduation, Frank enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1946 and served until 1947, in Korea. Upon returning from Korea, he attended Princeton University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

On April 26, 1952, Frank married Dorothy J. Oates at St. Bartholomew’s Church, in Norwich. They settled in Norwich and were married for more than 68 years before her passing on August 20, 2020. In 1952, Frank took a position with the Norwich Pharmacal Company as a chemist. He eventually became the Plant Personnel and Labor Relations Manager for the company and hired countless employees for the company. Frank retired in 1989 after 37 years of dedicated service with Norwich Pharmacal/Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals.

To say Frank loved the Norwich community is an understatement. Frank gave his talents any way he could and always volunteered his time. During his life, he volunteered at numerous places, including the Chenango United Way, the Chenango County Historical Society, the Northeast Classic Car Museum, Chenango Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, Chenango Hospice, and the Quarter Century Club at his work, where he was a member. He also volunteered for the Norwich School System, where he acted as a tutor and reader for the children, the Chenango Valley Home, where he was a board member and chaired the apartment addition of the facility, and the Norwich Rotary, where he was a member and led the Pancake Breakfasts, concessions, and Route 12 clean-up projects, and where he earned Rotary International’s highest award (Paul Harris Fellow). Frank also gave his time to the Norwich Family YMCA Board of Directors, including being its Board President in 1968, and helped to establish Camp Thompson for the YMCA. He also served for the Mid-State Personnel Council and as its President.

Frank was also huge sports advocate and did all he could to encourage sports and leadership. He was the public address announcer for the Norwich Cyclones for over 43 years, and was a coach for many years. Frank was the voice of Norwich High School sports for over 25 years, announcing both football and basketball games on WCHN radio. He bowled on the Norwich Pharmacal Company bowling league, golfed at the Canasawacta Country Club, attended endless games at Norwich High School of all sports, and was a “Gus Buster” for the Gus Macker basketball games for 24 years, until he was 92. Frank was awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Baden Powell Council of the Boy Scouts of America in 2008, the Chenango County Youth Bureau Volunteer of the Year in 2009, and was inducted in the Norwich High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. He was a lifelong member of St. Bartholomew’s Church, where he served as a Trustee for many years, and a member of the Norwich Elks Club, having served in many leadership roles.

Frank was known for his sense of humor, generosity as a father and grandfather, legendary dedication to his community, interest in people (ever an amazing conversationalist), and his love of a good meal, including dessert. Throughout the years, he and Dorothy kept in touch with a core group of high school friends and visited them all over the country on their mini-reunion weekends. They also traveled with friends and their daughter in Europe, England, and Ireland. Twice a year, for many years, they visited North Carolina to stay with their son, John, and visit old Norwich friends and every summer on Long Beach Island, NJ, with the family and friends of their son, Steve. Frank never missed their son David’s kid’s tennis matches, soccer games, dance recitals, taekwondo matches, concerts, musicals, birthdays, or graduations, and also traveled to Frank’s family’s activities in and around Lansing, NY. He could frequently be found playing pitch with the family or eating s’mores at a campfire. Because he loved Princeton University, Frank became the volunteer alumni regional applicant interviewer and rarely missed a reunion. Not only were his closets proudly full of purple and white, but black and orange.

Frank is survived by his five children, Steve (Mary Jane) Benenati, and their children, Lauren (Paul) Blatz, Ryan, and Katie (Cody) Fait; John Benenati; Frank (Nicole) Benenati, and their children, Cascade and Orion; Dave (Michelle), and their children, Austin and Natalie; and Maribeth (Dan) Gough, and their daughter, Summer; two great grandchildren, Everett Blatz and Julian Fait; sister-in-law, Vivian Benenati; and several nieces and nephews. In addition to his beloved wife, he was predeceased by his siblings, Joseph Benenati, Rosalie Rodiquenzi, Catherine Benenati, and Thomas Benenati.

The family wishes to acknowledge Gladys Branagan, who assisted Frank to live in his own home in recent times, as well as the many friends that checked in on Frank. Appreciation is also given to Chenango Memorial Hospital and the Intensive Care Unit for the care and support given to Frank and his family.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Frank will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, April 1, 2022, at the Church of St. Bartholomew, where the Rev. Ralph A. Bove, pastor, will officiate. Burial will immediately follow at St. Paul’s Cemetery. Friends are invited to call at the Wilson Funeral Home on Thursday, March 31, from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Donations in Frank’s memory may be made to the Norwich Family YMCA, 68 North Broad Street, Norwich, NY 13815, or to the Greater Norwich Foundation, 56 South Broad Street, Norwich, NY 13815.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Frank J. Benenati, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Thursday, March 31, 2022

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Friday, April 1, 2022

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

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