January 28, 1932 - January 6, 2021
Sacramento, California - Robert James Benton 88, of Sacramento, died January 6, 2021 after a long struggle with kidney disease. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Alice May Benton, and their nine children James Benton, Randall Benton, Julie Sandison, John Benton, Marianne Banas, Linda Gaskins, Gail Maketa, Nancy Benton, and Brian Benton. Robert also had 20 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. A Sacramento native, Robert graduated from Christian Brothers High School in 1950, then served in the US Navy during the Korean war. He married Alice May Andrews on October 10, 1953. He joined the California Highway Patrol and worked as a patrol officer, Public Relations officer, and State Capitol security officer providing security for Governor Ronald Reagan, as well as visiting dignitaries and heads of state. In the early 1960s Robert was instrumental in bringing helicopter monitoring of vehicle traffic to the Sacramento area in conjunction with local radio and TV. He was devoted to traffic safety, especially regarding pedestrian and bicycle safety. He developed a program to bring safety awareness to local schools, which eventually evolved into what is now Sacramento's 'Safetyville USA' on Bradshaw Road. Robert volunteered as a recovery diver assisting law enforcement in recovering drowning victims in the Sacramento delta area. After retiring from the CHP in 1983 he piloted the paddlewheel boats along the Sacramento River, and operated the 'Sacramento River Otter' water taxi service near Old Sacramento. Robert became a member of the Sacramento Law Enforcement Chaplaincy in 2002. Serving as a Community Chaplain, he provided support and comfort to grieving victims of crime and personal loss. He was honored with the President's Volunteer Service Award in 2010. A devout Catholic his whole life, he served his local church in the role of Sacristan until his failing health kept him at home. Robert selflessly spent his entire life in the service of others in his community and will be remembered by everyone who knew him as a virtuous role model and devoted family man.
Published in The Sacramento Bee on Jan. 24, 2021.