Beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, “Big Joe” died peacefully on Thursday, September 4, 2014. He was born on April 19, 1923 in Columbus, Georgia and raised in Atlanta by his parents, Evelyn Jane Millspaugh Benton and Dr. Curtis Dudley Benton, Sr. In 1947 he married his “eva-lovin”, Marjorie Emma Black, “Em”, with whom he celebrated his 65th wedding anniversary in June of 2012. He and Marjorie moved to Baton Rouge in 1953, where they resided until moving to Lambeth House in New Orleans in the fall of 2011. After he was graduated from Druid Hills High School in 1940, he attended Emory University, The Citadel and University of South Carolina, earning a BS in Civil Engineering in 1944. He was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at both Emory and Carolina. He accepted an appointment to The United States Naval Academy from which he was graduated in 1947. As an honor graduate, he was asked to return to teach thermodynamics at The Academy for a year. After serving seven more years in the Navy, he accepted his first job with Esso Corporation in Baton Rouge. Later he worked for Ethyl Corporation as a project engineer for 16 years. During the course of his engineering career he received patents for raised computer flooring and biologic waste treatment systems. Upon retiring from Ethyl, Joe began a new career with a commercial door company, Benton Doors, with two of his sons. Finally at the age of 85, being the energetic man he was, he took an office job at St. James Episcopal Church, where he was a senior warden and a long-time member of the choir. Joe generously gave time to other volunteer activities including 16 years of service on the Board of Directors at St. James Place, serving as President of the Baton Rouge Kiwanis Club and tutoring young students in Math in the Baton Rouge public schools. He was a fellow in the National Association of Environmental Engineers, a lifetime member of “The Association of Citadel Men”, and a tenor soloist for both the Citadel and The Naval Academy. He was also the business manager of the yearbook, Lucky Bag and at the Naval Academy and was chosen to present the 1948 Lucky Bag to President Harry S. Truman at the White House with his then fiancee, Marjorie, and his parents at his side. He and Marjorie were also members of the “Rebels” and “Ramblers” dance clubs. He loved tennis, golf , flying airplanes and attending a weekly men’s prayer group until the move to New Orleans. Above all else, “Big Joe” treasured his family and completely adored his “Em”. Their 65 year marriage was a true love affair until “Em” passed away in January, 2013. He often said he felt his life was over when he lost her and that he would gladly “do it all over again if he could”. “Big Joe” will be remembered for that devotion to his wife and family, his optimism, sensitivity, beautiful singing voice, and his willingness and ability to do any and all “honey-do’s” for “Em”, his children and any friend who asked. Joe was predeceased by his parents; his wife, Marjorie; his brother, Dr. Curtis D. Benton, Jr, and his son, James Dudley Benton. He is survived by his son, Joseph Herbert Benton, Jr and his fiancee, Edith Jaime and his children: Joe III, Andy, Leigh Bucklad(Brad), William Reed and Emmily and their children, Nicholas, Chloe, Miles, Evelynne and Jameson; his daughter-in-law, Laurel Babers Benton and her children: Alyson Curry(Jason), Nancy Roberts(Trey), Ann Fraser(Andrew), Michael, William, Cary Fitzmorris(Paul) and Emma, and their children, Jackson, Patrick, Caroline, Laurel, Frances, William, Susanna and Eleanor; his daughter, Robin Benton Crutcher(Bruce); and his son Robert Allan Benton(Julie) and his children Dane, Ross and Claire, and their children, Cohen, Parker and Evelyn. His 3 children, 15 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren will miss him dearly. Special thanks to his devoted caregiver Juanita Freeman, and the staff at Lambeth House. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, September 13 at 11:00am at St. James Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge. Visitation will be before the service between 9 and 11am. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to St. James Episcopal Church of Baton Rouge or The Lambeth House Foundation in New Orleans.
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