HUDSON FALLS – Joseph David Benoit, 72, known to many as “Papa Joe,” of Harrison Avenue in Hudson Falls and Minerva, NY, passed away peacefully June 1st, 2014 in the mountain camp that he built with his own two strong and very kind hands. He passed away in the arms and loving embrace of his wife, family and children.
Born March, 2nd, 1942, in Glens Falls, he was the son of Norman Benoit and Lillian Bernard Benoit.
Papa Joe was a graduate of the Adirondack Mountains, a degree that eventually reached doctoral status.
He was a U.S. Army veteran, who was honorably discharged from the Army, where he worked in the motor pool and keeping the Soviets out of Fort Dix, NJ and Fort Drum, NY. He also rented a cabin on the shores of Lake Ontario with his commanding officer, where they spent most of the Cold War enjoying the beach, the open water and the contents of a cooler.
While in the service, he married his beloved wife of 47 years, Janet Everts Benoit, on April 1st, 1967. They met in Fort Drum, NY and raised five children together.
After his discharge from the service, he worked for Adirondack Glass for 37 years, where he excelled as a master glazier.
Joe’s proudest accomplishment in life, besides his children and deep friendships, was his mountain paradise, which he bought for $166 in 1967. Before his retirement, most weekends he brought his children to “camp.” After his retirement, he spent most of his time on his mountain, where he fished and hunted and visited his neighbors. He was always welcome company on the “road” and the most generous of hosts.
Papa Joe had many hobbies. Welder, carpenter, mechanic, plumber and (to the terror of his children) a part-time roofer into his seventies. There was nothing he couldn’t fix. Upon his retirement from Adirondack Glass he was a professional tinkerer and putterer. He loved to find “broken” snow blowers and weed wackers that his friends planned to throw out. He would take them off their hands, fix them, and then call them with the news that the machine was running perfectly, with much laughter exchanged with the two parties. He was the finest of neighbors, to his friends on the mountain and his friends in Hudson Falls. There was never a tool he wouldn’t lend to a friend, a driveway that went unplowed, a patch of grass left uncut, or a task left undone to help in the service of his friends and neighbors who he considered family. He was the definition of “great neighbor.”
Papa Joe was also an avid outdoorsman. He went “into the woods” year round, either chasing whitetail through the hardwoods or launching his canoe into a peaceful pond in search of brook trout. He loved his time with his son-in-law, Barney Bellinger. They searched for peace and trout. Found both. He built two cabins for friends and family to enjoy year-round. The last twenty-five years of his life he was often beset by illness: mild heart attack(s), three shoulder surgeries, 22 year stage IV cancer survivor, two hip replacements, but that never stopped Papa Joe from smiling, or stopped him from carrying a canoe back or excusing himself from rugged hiking. He had a beautiful energy of endurance through pain, with a smile on his face and kindness in his heart.
In addition to his parents, Joe was predeceased by his brothers, Ronald, John and Charles, his dog Glory and his best friend Don Campbell.
He is survived by his wife Janet; his brothers Norman and Laurent; his sons, Mark Schneider and his fiancé, Evelyn of Queensbury, NY; Stephen White and his significant other Jeff of St. Petersburg, FL; Joel Benoit and his fiancé, Dorothy of Los Angeles, CA ; Jesse Benoit and his wife, Ashley of Cary, NC; daughter Susan Bellinger and her husband Barney of Mayfield, NY; his granddaughters, Holly Schneider Hughes, Heidi Schneider and Erin Bellinger, Kristina Wells; grandson Carter Joseph; one great granddaughter, Kenna and several nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind his dog Scarlet, his cats Lily and Tilly, and 27 Hummingbirds.
Joe had many spiritual sons, including Scott Mason and Craig Richards, and a spiritual daughter and granddaughter in Denise and Leah Richards. He had spiritual brothers in Joseph Bickford and Butch Barlow, as well as his beloved sister in law Kathy Barlow-who were all with him when he passed. He considered his close friends, Lee and Kathy Varney, to be family-and spent great years in his retirement in their good company.
A celebration of Joe’s life will be held on Friday, June 6th from 9-12 at Carleton Funeral Home, Inc., in Hudson Falls. There will be a short reading by the family followed by a funeral procession to Saratoga National Cemetery for a graveside service, followed by a 21-gun salute. There will also be a private memorial at the convenience of the family on a beloved Adirondack Pond.
Graveside services, with full military honors, will take place at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Veteran’s Cemetery in the town of Stillwater.
Joe’s family would like to thank the neighbors and friends in Hudson Falls and on the mountain for all their help the last couple of months. We would also like to thank Hospice for their extraordinary service.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to High Peaks Hospice. But besides a donation to hospice, Joe Benoit would have liked you to be kind to your neighbors. As he was so community-oriented towards his fellow man, that would be the highest honor in his name.
He was born on Paris Avenue in Hudson Falls. He walked the streets of Paris, France. He lived a great life between the dashes, and he had no regrets. He was the finest man. The finest father. The finest friend. We have faith he is walking the forest floor, or floating on a brook trout pond reunited with his best friend, Don Campbell. He was the last of his generation of mountain men to go, and somewhere he is reunited with them all.
This obituary composed as a tribute to his dad by Joe’s son Joel Benoit. The picture was provided by Joe’s friend Tad Lemery.