THE CURTAIN IS LOWERED FOR SYLVIA LeMONEK BENJAMIN BUT HER EFFORTS TO PRESERVE THE ARTS IN CINCINNATI WILL LIVE ON FOREVER|
Sylvia L. Benjamin, 92, a resident of The Academy at Bella Vista in Boulder, CO, took a final bow on February 22, 2014.
It was said that if Oscars were awarded for civic leadership, Sylvia Benjamin would have a roomful of them. It's no overstatement that she was a marquee name to anyone involved in fundraising.
A native Cincinnatian, she earned a BA degree from the University of Cincinnati where, among many activities, she was active in dramatics; she performed with the Varsity Vanities and became the first female president of the Mummers' Guild and the Arts Board. She served on the Women's Senate and was a member of the University's Student Speakers' Bureau, once speaking on Fountain Square about "What America Meant to Me". She was inducted into the National Honorary Dramatic Fraternity, Theta Alpha Phi, and the National Council, Tau Kappa Alpha, in recognition of forensic attainment. After graduating, she attended Columbia University in New York where she received a Master of Arts Degree. In New York City, she worked in a copy writing and editorial capacity for Life and Time Magazines, USO Camp Shows, the Institute of Radio Engineers, Popular Science and Readers' Digest.
Returning to Cincinnati, while maintaining her interest in drama with The Actors Guild and Stage Inc., professionally she became Production Manager with The Durstine Advertising Agency, The Associated Advertising Agency and The Perry Brown Agency. She was a member and served on the Board of the Advertisers Club of Cincinnati and was also a member of the Production Men's Club of Cincinnati.
Following her marriage to Julien E. Benjamin, Jr., she returned to her first love, the theater. At Cincinnati's Shubert Theater, she appeared professionally with such well-known artists as Robert Rounsville, Diana Barrymore, Jerry Orbach, Harold Lang and Gene Nelson; at Cincinnati Music Hall with the Cincinnati Opera, she played speaking roles in "The Student Prince" and "The Sound of Music" with her husband, Julien. On the airwaves, Sylvia Benjamin became a familiar figure in both radio and television commercials and dramatic shows including the Rod Serling series "The Storm". She also appeared in many industrial films. She was a member of the unions, Screen Actors Guild, Equity, and American Federation of Radio and Television.
At the civic level, she was most active in various arts and cultural activities. Over the years, she served on boards or select committees of The Cincinnati Ballet, WCET-TV, The Cincinnati May Festival, The Friends of the College Conservatory of Music, the Playhouse in the Park and The School for Creative and Performing Arts. With the Cincinnati Opera, aside from being an on-stage performer, she served on various committees and on the Opera Board and Opera Guild Board and was inducted as an honorary member of the Opera Board. With her husband, Julien, they chaired the opera's second ball "Un Ballo in Maschera" held at the Gibson Hotel. She also served on committees to raise funds for Miami Purchase, the Fine Arts, The Antique Festival for Children's Hospital, the Greater Cincinnati Flower and Garden Show Society, Multiple Sclerosis, AVOC (AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati), Enjoy the Arts and Learning Through Art, Inc. Over the years, Mrs. Benjamin's greatest civic activity, however, was with The Women's Committee of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Starting in the early sixties, in turn she chaired almost every enterprise this Committee formed; Symphony Week, Symphony on the Square, Symphony of Fashion, The Symphony Marathon and her Treasure Aisle in 1984 netted more for the Symphony than any such previous fundraiser. That same year she became the last President of the Cincinnati Women's Committee.
She served on Enjoy the Arts committees to honor Irma Lazarus, Patricia Corbett and Phyllis Weston. She also served on the Underground Railroad Committee for the first and second Freedom Center awards presentations. Mrs. Benjamin served on the Board of the Chinese Music Society and the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall. Beside the gamut of civic organizations, Mrs. Benjamin was a member of the Women's Committee of the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Cincinnati Symphony Club, the Cincinnati Symphony Association, the English Speaking Union, the Art Museum Duveneck Association and the Cincinnati MacDowell Society.
Survivors are her daughter Terri Alice Benjamin of Boulder, CO and granddaughter Gabriella Benjamin Hecht of Los Angeles, CA. She is preceded in death by her husband, Julien E. Benjamin, Jr., with whom she shared a treasured 45-year marriage.
Performer, journalist and dynamic civic leader all rolled into one – Sylvia L. Benjamin not only lived every day to the fullest but each and every moment.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be made to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Gift of Music Fund and The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall, both at 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati OH 45202 and The Cincinnati Opera at 1243 Elm St, Cincinnati OH 45202. Contributions may also be made to the Boulder Community Hospital Foundation, PO Box 9019 Boulder CO 80301 and The YWCA of Boulder County, 2222 14th St., Boulder CO 80302.
Private family memorial services will be held in Boulder, CO and Cincinnati, OH.
Published in The Boulder Daily Camera on Mar. 2, 2014