Samuel Benoff, 91, formerly of Stratford, Camden County, the personnel director for a national aviation center in South Jersey, died Friday, Feb. 8, of kidney failure.
Mr. Benoff was a graduate of Girard College, where he spent his first 10 years before moving to South Jersey to work and start a family. The final phase of his life, beginning in 1990, was spent in Naples, Fla. He died at Naples Hospital.
Born in South Philadelphia to Morris and Mary Shapitvisky Benoff, Mr. Benoff had a difficult start in life. When he was 8, his father died of tuberculosis and his sister died of a blood disorder.
His mother, a Russian immigrant who did not speak English, couldn’t afford to raise him, so she enrolled him in Girard College, then a home and school for fatherless boys. He grew up there, graduating in 1945 at age 18.
Mr. Benoff flourished at the school and made lifelong friends. “He regaled his children with many tales of his mischievous deeds while attending Girard,” said his daughter, Marcy Silvestri. “He lived a wonderful life, and provided much joy and laughter to his family and friends.”
Mr. Benoff joined the Navy in 1945 and served until 1948. After returning to Philadelphia, he married Joyce Powell, a teacher. The two settled in Stratford, where they raised four children.
The couple loved to dance and won several jitterbug contests. Mr. Benoff was a coach for his son Michael’s Little League baseball team, the Indians. He was also known as the “singing” umpire for that same league. “He would call balls and strikes in a singsong, and the boys in the dugout would try to see who could do the best imitation,” his daughter said.
Mr. Benoff had a 30-year career as the personnel director for the Federal Aviation Administration National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center near Atlantic City before retiring in 1984. Now called the William J. Hughes Technical Center, the facility does research on and works to improve air traffic management and aircraft safety, according to its website.
Mr. Benoff’s wife died in 1990. Afterward, he moved to Naples to enjoy the warm weather and play golf. He met and married Linda Darrah in 1992. The couple became active as leaders of their condo association at Berkshire Village.
They traveled to visit family in South Jersey and across the country. Mr. Benoff took a special trip to Ireland with his friends from Girard College. In October 2010, on the occasion of his 83rd birthday, he hosted a large gathering of Girard alumni in Florida.
Mr. Benoff was an avid fan of all Philadelphia sports teams, and once in Florida, he adopted the local teams, too.
“Philly was close to his heart, and he loved the Mummers Parade, often doing the Mummers strut,” his daughter said.
In addition to his son, daughter, and wife, he is survived by daughters Michelle Mansika and Marlyn Zucosky; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
He was especially close to a cousin, Marty Benoff, 98, who had been like a brother to Mr. Benoff since his early days in South Philadelphia. He also survives.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, at Joseph Levine & Sons Memorial Chapel, 4737 E. Street Rd., Trevose. Interment will be in Roosevelt Memorial Park, Trevose.