Longtime Ridgefield and Redding resident Chritten Paul "Ben" Benoit, a former Air Force officer and later American Airlines captain, died Feb. 19 at Danbury Health Care Center after a long battle with cancer. He was 77.
Born on May 28, 1936, in Southbridge, Mass., to a cabinetmaker father and volunteer nurse- mother, he became fascinated with aviation as boy, joining the Air National Guard while still attending Southbridge High School. He was accepted into the cadet program at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas in 1955.
Benoit met his first wife, Mary Anne Handley, who had two children from a previous marriage, while stationed in Michigan. The couple married in 1963 and had three children of their own.
Retiring from the Air Force as a captain, Benoit moved his young family to Ridgefield and began flying for American Airlines, where he would become a captain and spend the rest of his career, retiring in 1996.
Benoit's first marriage ended in divorce in 1986. Mary Anne Benoit died in 2009.
He met his second wife, Galina Seriakova, in 1995. They married in 1997 and moved to Redding with her two youngest children. "He was generous to the point he could give everything to people in need," Seriakova said.
Survivors include two sons: Paul Benoit of Melville, N.Y., and Mark Benoit of Bethel; a daughter, Barbara Kieley of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; three stepdaughters, Christie Handley of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Constance Handley of Arlington, Va., and Anna Kovtunenko of Brooklyn, N.Y.; three stepsons, Nickolai Kovtunenko of Moscow, Alexander Seriakov of New Haven, and Alexei Kovtunenko of Hartford; two brothers, Jerome Benoit of Vernon, Conn., and Kerry Benoit of Fort Worth, Texas; a sister, Alexis Elza of Woodland Park, Colo.; three grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday February 25th at Saint Peter Church, 104 Main St., Danbury. A private burial in Massachusetts will take place in the spring.
The Green Funeral Home 57 Main Street Danbury is in charge of arrangements.