| Eulogy for My Beloved Grandpa
John P. Benda
(October 16th, 2004)
Can I have a show of hands as to whom has heard my grandfather call someone a potato-head?...
Hi. I'm Dan, John Benda's first born grandchild. Thank you all for the love that's in this church right now and thank you for being here to honor John Paul Benda, my grandfather, who was so special to me and each and everyone of you. The most powerful love you can express for my grandfather is in the tears you're shedding for him right now. I'm truly blessed that God allowed me to enjoy 35 magical years in his company. Just the word "grandpa" would get me excited and put a smile on my face. I've truly worshipped him so much!
John Benda, grandpa or as I affectionately used to say as a youngster "Poppa", was born on August 27th, 1921 in Hopedale, Massachusetts. His mom and dad were Paul and Purina Benda, who were originally from Italy. Grandpa had two brothers that he looked up to a great deal in Henry and Charlie and two sisters he cared about very much-Rose and Angie. He spent much of his youth in Roxbury, Massachusetts during a difficult time in our nation's history-"The Great Depression". At the young age of 16, he joined the CCC or Civilian Conservation Corps up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire -which was all part of president Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal movement, trying to get our economy stimulated and create jobs. Most of his responsibilities were forestry related, logging and such and of the $30 a month he would be paid - like any good son, he'd send 25 of it home to mom.
While employed at Marine Optical in Roslindale, Massachusetts he would meet and court the beautiful and special Antoinette Marie Marcontonio - my grandmother. Everyone knows that my grandfather was quite the Casanova and I'm sure grandma was bowled over when Grandpa would whisper sweet somethings in her ear. Grandpa would join the Navy and serve our country proud during this 2nd World War - "The War To End All Wars.". He served on the U.S.S. Terror, a mine sweeper, in the Pacific Campaign and developed a lifelong friendship with fellow seaman Danny Asenze of Providence. Grandpa was a charter member of the WWII generation...which I believe was the most "patriotic" of generations!"
On April 22nd, 1945, during a one-month leave, John and Anne tied the knot and became one. This would be a bond that would transcend 59 years.
Grandpa was a loving husband and a great provider. He spent most of his adult life in the employ of Losordo Construction. He was so proud to point out to me over the years all of the buildings and such that he had helped construct - something that always made me proud. I remember vividly times when we were visiting my grandparents during my youth and grandpa would be leaving early around 5:00 o'clock a.m. to go to work. I'd wake up and hear him and I would ask - "Grandpa, where are you going?" and he'd say "I'm heading to work Danny-be good and I'll see you soon." This was followed by the thrill later in the day of seeing him walking up Cornell Street in his blue workshirt and pants and blue hat after a hard days work. Grandpa was a "celebrity" to me and seeing him come up that street meant so much.
Grandma and Grandpa would create a loving family in Roslindale, Massachusetts first with my mom Joanne, followed by John and then Elaine. Grandpa also became part of such a wonderful extended family on grandma's side. It was like he was inheriting an extra set of parents in James and Anntoinette Marcontonio and another brother and sister in Joe Marcontonio and Rose Sinopoli. And he had 8 loving grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren to dolt on - later in life (Dan,Rich,Rob, John,Ken,Katlyn,Evan, Lilah,Branden and Christopher). I'm sure everyone here has a special story about John Benda. He touched so many lives. For me, he was truly the best grandfather anyone could ever have. I would hope that everyone would agree that the most important things in life are: God, Family and Health. I know that grandpa instilled the importance of these three in me.
Thinking back, there was no better feeling in the world than when my mom and dad, Joanne and Phil, would say to me and my brothers Rich and Rob that "If you kids are good, we're going to grandma and grandpas this weekend. Believe me - that week there were halos above our heads...we were on A+ behavior. Think of how you felt on your favorite vacation of "all-time" and that's how I've always felt everytime we'd make that magical 5-hour journey up to Boston to see grandma and grandpa. I've always worshipped the ground they walked on. Because of them, I love New England, New England history, the Boston Sports teams, big-band music and just so many other wonderful things.
Grandpa, I wish we could go back in time together and get in your old car and pull up to the end of Cornell Street -walk into John Capone's drugstore a.k.a. "The Draggonsnapper" and I could pick out a comic book again and drink a frap, while you shadow-boxed with John. You meant so much to me and shaped my life in so many positive ways. Your presence will always be felt. I'll miss most our conversations and the laughs we always had and just being in one-another's company...but the beautiful thing is that one day we'll be together for all eternity with Jesus Christ.
*You know, I'm sure Grandpa's in Heaven "right now" negotiating with Babe Ruth. He's offered the Babe some of his famous homemade clams and pizzas and he's trying to work out a deal to let us...well...you know?!? Maybe win it all, ONE-time?"
I'd like to read this little note my Grandpa sent me when I was around 3 or so:
Here is a little game for you, because you was a good boy when you was at my house. So please always be a good boy and mind mommy and daddy. I love you and I hope I will be able to come to Michigan soon and stay with you. So long for now".
God Bless You, "Poppa"
(P.S.)You forgot your belt, Pal.
I'm glad I was his "PAL" and he was my "POPPA". God Bless You Grandpa and I love you.
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