Benito "Bennie" Pena

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  • "Our sincere condolences to everyone in Ben's family. He..."
    - Dale and Gay Crawford
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  • "Dear Carla, Robert and Missy; Your Dad and Mom were great..."
    - Joan Gardner
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    - Henry Atwater
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    - Kim Swanson
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Benito (Bennie) Peña, 94, beloved father and grandfather, died peacefully on Friday, February 15 at his home in Rio Rancho following a brief illness.
Bennie was born in San Mateo, New Mexico in 1924 and was the oldest of seven surviving children in the ranching family of Pablo and Pablita Peña. After graduating in 1942 from Grants High School he enlisted with the US Naval Construction Battalions, better known as the Seabees, and served in the South Pacific during WWII. After the War he attended New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and met his wife of 52 years, Juanita Valdez Peña. Bennie and Juanita moved to Los Alamos in 1950 where they both spent their careers working at the National Laboratory, and where they raised their three children. Bennie was an active member of the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal service organization, and he enjoyed skiing with his children at Pajarito Mountain, coaching "Lassie League" girl's softball, tending his vegetable garden, and spending weekends camping and building a cabin with his family in the mountains near Guadalupita, NM.
He enjoyed 37 years working at the Lab and retired in 1987. Following Juanita's retirement, the two became avid golfers and world travelers. With Friendship Force International they traveled widely, making friends on homestay visits around the globe, and hosting many international visitors at their home in Los Alamos. For over a decade starting in 1994 Bennie served on the Board of Directors of the Grants State Bank.
After Juanita passed away in 2002, Bennie moved to Rio Rancho where he built a home and where he met Sandra Huber, who he married in 2004. He continued golfing and traveling with Sandra and her family, and with his children and grandchildren.
Bennie is survived by Sandra Huber; his two sisters: Lydia Peña, Sister of Loretto (Denver), and Dorothy McBride (Grants); his three children: Carla Peña-Gaiser and husband Tim (Rio Rancho), Robert Peña and his wife Deborah Sigler (Seattle), Melissa MacEachran and her husband Ainslie (Ft. Collins); and six grandchildren: Maria and Patrick Gaiser, Mateo and Maya Peña, and Pryor and Benito MacEachran.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 am on Saturday, February 23 at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Rio Rancho, 1502 Sara Rd SE.
Published in Los Alamos Monitor on Feb. 20, 2019
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