Born to Doug and Sherry Benjamin on September 21, 1958, Phil grew up in Rochester, NY and graduated from Sperry High School. He went on to earn an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts from Alfred State, and few years after completing his degree he opened his first restaurant in Andover, NY. There, he enjoyed many years of cooking, a passion he indulged throughout his life, and passed on to his children. After a few years as a restaurateur, he went on to a career in food service management at Houghton College, and then at St. Bonaventure for 15 years.
All throughout this time, he served his country in multiple branches of the military, having begun his military career in the Air Force in 1981, and serving for three years before transferring into the Army National Guard for six years. He returned to the Air Force in 1999, at Niagara Air National Guard Base, Niagara Falls, NY, where he worked for 4 years. The last 13 years of his military career, he served full time at Hancock Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, NY, where he was much loved and respected by his co-workers, and famously known around his office. Always a charmer, Phil had an affinity for baked goods and all who befriended him were happy to oblige. Phil served his country for over 25 years, making many friends and developing a second family along the way.
His family will always remember him as a “city cowboy,” a man who despite his urban upbringing developed a love for the country and the natural world. An avid outdoorsman, Phil loved to hunt and fish, and had an incredible fondness for dogs. He was a member of the American Legion Cortland Post #489, and was always good for a beer and a great conversation. He always knew his way around the kitchen, and was never shy about passing on his vast cooking knowledge to his family and friends, the people he loved and cared most about throughout his life.
He was preceded in death by his father, Douglas Benjamin, brother, Jerry Benjamin, and survived by his mother Sherry Benjamin, sister Debbie Gallagher, both of who reside in Deltona, FL, his longtime companion Billie Hagin, Cortland NY, four children and one stepchild, Dasha (Jeff) Halladay of Gifford, PA, Nicole (Alex) Woodhead of Portville, NY, Philip (Sophia) Benjamin of Manlius, NY, and Matthew (Lorin) Benjamin of West Clarksville, NY, Hunter Hagin, Moravia, NY, six grandchildren, Addysin, Neleha, Drake, Colton, Avery, and Oliver, as well as several nieces, nephews, and numerous cousins he remained close to throughout his life.
Family and friends will be received from 1-4 p.m., Saturday, November 19 at the Schaffner Funeral Home, 554 S. Main Street, Bolivar, NY 14715, and a military service will be held Sunday, November 20 at 1:00 p.m. at Bowler Memorial Cemetery in Little Genesee, NY.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Clear Path for Veterans at 1223 Salt Springs Road, Chittenango, NY 13037, or at ClearPath4Vets.com.