Claude John Benedict
1938 ~ 2023
Captain Claude John Benedict, age 85, passed away peacefully on November 6, 2023, surrounded by family. Claude was born April 23, 1938, to Ralph and Anna Benedict in St. Louis, MO.
Claude graduated from McBride High School in 1955 and went on to study engineering at St. Louis University. Following college Claude was commissioned into the Navy where he trained as a Naval Aviator in Pensacola and Kingsville. Upon earning his wings, his orders took him to Okinawa, Japan. Before leaving the states, he married the love of his life, Eloise on January 5, 1963, whom he had known for many years, first meeting her when he would deliver groceries to her family in St. Louis. They celebrated 60 years of marriage earlier this year!
After the Navy, Claude settled the family in Minnesota, and he launched his career as a Northwest Airlines pilot. [Claude was hired by NWA on 4/07/69.] Claude loved to fly and never thought of his 30 years with the airline as a job. He rarely drew attention to himself and when people he didn’t know asked him what he did he often would tell them he was a heavy equipment operator! During the 70’s energy crisis when the airlines would lay off pilots for a few months at a time, Claude exemplified his incredible work ethic and humility to sustain his family taking jobs ranging from gas station attendant, tree trimmer, cook, water proofer, and cab driver. When an especially long lay-off occurred, Claude decided to drive trucks. He rented a semi, drove it around town for a while and then took the Class A Commercial Driver’s test, passing his first time. Claude’s dedication was rewarded in the end – his final home base with the airline was on Oahu where he flew the 747 back and forth to Asia.
Claude was an explorer at heart – he loved hiking & camping with his daughter Donna in the mountains surrounding Seattle, volksmarching in all 50 states with his wife, Eloise, and always open to a new craft beer with his daughter Diane. While in Hawaii he and Eloise joined a sailing club and crewed the Free Spirit around the islands. When their crewing days were over, they turned to bigger boats and took multiple cruises enjoying the tropical islands of the Caribbean. He and Eloise also recently completed their tour of every Major League Baseball stadium. They loved baseball – the Cardinals, Twins and Nationals were their favorites, and they passed this love of the game to their family. After moving to Florida, they were afforded the opportunity to attend many spring training games. Even at 85 years old Claude’s sense of adventure was not diminished, demonstrated recently when he and Eloise on a whim jumped on the car train out of Florida to head to Virginia so that they could visit their great-grandsons and attend a late season Nationals game in Washington DC.
The center of Claude’s life was his faith in God. A lifelong Catholic, Claude drew his strength from the sacraments as a daily mass communicant. He exemplified and made tangible the love of God to every person he met, most especially to his family. Claude was a 3rd Degree Knight of Columbus; first in the Holy Family Council in Virginia and currently in the Sts. Cosmos & Damian Council in Florida. He was a man of quiet service, satisfying the smallest needs of anyone around him. It was hard to get the man to sit down!
In addition to his parents, Claude was preceded in death by his brother, Donald, and his sisters Ruth (Ed) Mosley and Betty (Ambrose) Perotta as well as a niece, Debbie Perotta. He is survived by Eloise, his wife of 60 years, and their two daughters, Diane (David) Beauchamp and Donna (James) Hamm as well as seven grandchildren – Nicholas (Marissa), Thomas (Annie), Katherine, Mark, and Teresa Beauchamp, Anna (Steven) Mercer and Rachel (Sebastian) LLeras. He was blessed with two great-grandsons who adored their Papa – Finbarr & Cillian Beauchamp. He also leaves behind in-laws, Janice Kempker and Bob & Kathy Adrian as well as many nieces and nephews: Ken & Mary, Linda & Tom Muller, Tony, Joe & Karen, Ed, and Tom Perotta, Denise & Scott Morice, Chris & Brian Bauer, Matthew & Cindy Kempker, Neil, Todd & Kaleigh Adrian.
(- Benedict family)