John J. Benanti, 94, of Newtown, died peacefully August 20 at Pope John Paul Care Center, surrounded by his loving family. Born July 17, 1919, in Manhattan, he overcame the hardships of the Great Depression and the death of his father, at age 11, by working as a shoeshine boy and Western Union Messenger to help support his family.
He later went on to proudly serve his country during World War II in the 511th Airborne Parachute Infantry, earning a Bronze Star and Purple Heart along with several other combat medals. His famous “Fighting Angels” division, launched at Camp Mackall, N.C., February 25, 1943, was responsible for successful campaigns in New Guinea, Leyte, and Luzon, and ultimately selected to spearhead the occupation forces into Japan on August 30, 1945, four days before the surrender was formally signed.
He married the former Evelyn R. Tecl in September 1946, and soon moved to Putnam Lake, N.Y., to raise a family of three during their 66-year marriage.
He spent 30-plus years working at The Barden Corporation in Danbury, making world-renowned precision ball bearings. In retirement the Benantis moved to Newtown, to be closer to family.
Mr Benanti was actively involved in the local VFW Post, including serving several terms as the post commander.
He is survived by his daughter Laura-Jean Benanti with family Paul and Marie; sons John Benanti, Jr, with partner Dorothy, and Lawrence Benanti with wife Mary Jane; two grandsons Anthony Rhew and Adam Thomson-Benanti; his sister Tena Sullivan; half-brother Jack Montera; and many other adoring family members.
Calling hours are Monday, August 26, from 4 to 7 pm, at the Honan Funeral Home, 58 Main Street, Newtown. A private mass and interment of Mr and Mrs Benanti’s ashes will be held at a later date, in September.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org/join_the_cause_donate.asp.
To leave online condolences visit www. honanfh.com.