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Joseph Benedict Benedetti

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Obituary of Joseph Benedict Benedetti March 28, 1929-November 19, 2014 Joseph Benedict Benedetti, a prominent member of the Virginia General Assembly appreciated for his leadership, commitment, dedication, and collegial approach throughout longtime public and civic service, died of natural causes November 19 at his home in Richmond, Va. He was 85. In 2004, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Resolution No. 503 commending Mr. Benedetti for "his lifetime of outstanding service to the community, the General Assembly of Virginia, and to the nation." Mr. Benedetti was an attorney in private practice with an emphasis on civil litigation following military service before he was elected to the House of Delegates after defeating the incumbent in 1982. He was named Outstanding Freshman Legislator in 1983 and re-elected two times without opposition before being elected to the Senate in 1986. He was re-elected three times, serving in the Virginia Senate until 1995 and representing the citizens of the Tenth Senatorial District in the city of Richmond and Henrico, Chesterfield and Powhatan Counties. Mr. Benedetti's principal legislative interests were directed through the Chesapeake and its Tributaries, Commerce and Labor, Courts of Justice, Finance, General Laws, Health and Welfare Institutions, Local Government and Rules Committees. From 1988 to 1991, Mr. Benedetti was elected by his colleagues as co-chairman of the Joint Republican Caucus, and in 1992 he was selected by his fellow Republicans to be the Minority Leader of the Senate. Four years later, in 1996, with the Senate evenly split between the two parties, he was elected to a new term as the Senate Republican Floor Leader. He was appointed Chairman of the State Board of Corrections in 1981 by Governor John Dalton. He was appointed by Governor James Gilmore in 1997 to head the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, and retired from four years of meritorious service in 2001. Mr. Benedetti enlisted in the United States Army in 1946 and served with the occupation forces in Japan. After participating in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps at The College of William and Mary, he was commissioned in 1951 as a second lieutenant to serve during the Korean War. While directing field artillery on Old Baldy Mountain, he won the Bronze Star Medal for Valor in Combat. Disregarding personal safety, he ran out of his bunker to rescue a company commander who had been hit by enemy fire. It was while serving in Korea that he earned the nickname "G.I. Joe." He continued his military service as an officer with the US Army National Guard (1953-63) and was called to active duty during the Berlin Crisis (1961-62) when he was promoted to Captain. He retired from the US Army National Guard with the rank of major. His legal work included partnerships in the firms Minor, Saunders and Benedetti; Christian, House, Benedetti & Lubman; Smart and Benedetti; and Benedetti, Gilmore, Warthen & Dalton. He was committed to the legal profession through service on the Executive Committee of the Richmond Bar Association and on the Board of Directors of the Richmond Junior Bar Association. He was elected president of the Phil Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. Throughout his lifetime, Mr. Benedetti was actively involved in community and charitable causes. He served as president of the Diocese of Richmond and the West End Catholic Men's Association. He was on the Board of Directors of Catholic Family and Childrens Service, St. Mary's Hospital, Theatre Virginia, Birthright, St. Francis Home for the Aged, and the Mount Calvary Cemetery. He served on the Board of Visitors of Saint Gertrude's High School and Benedictine High School. He was state secretary of the Knights of Columbus and actively involved with Kiwanis and the American Legion. He was an active participant in the Boy Scouts serving on the Robert E. Lee Council of the Boy Scouts of America as well as being a pack Cubmaster and troop Scoutmaster. He was Cub Scout Chairman for the city of Richmond and Chairman of the Catholic Committee on Scouting. He was awarded the St. George Award for service to youth and the Brotherhood Award presented by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. He was noted for his beautiful singing voice, and played the role of Captain Von Trapp in the 1971 show of the Sound of Music at the Barksdale Theater in Hanover, Va. He met his beloved wife Peggy acting alongside her in the Catholic Theatre Guild's production of the Passion Play in Richmond, Va. They married a year later. He earned a law degree from the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond (1959) where he was elected president of the student body. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from The College of William and Mary (1951). He attended St. Joseph's Preparatory in Kentucky graduating in 1946 and previously attended Richmond's Benedictine High School, where all his sons also attended. The school was co-founded by his father-in-law William Nolte. He was a member of St. Benedict's Catholic Church. The son of an Italian immigrant father from Camiore, Italy (near Lucca) and an English-immigrant mother, Mr. Benedetti was born on March 28, 1929 as the youngest of six children. His mother died when he was ten, and his father died while he was in high school. He is predeceased by his wife of 32 years, Marguerite "Peggy" Nolte Benedetti, who succumbed to cancer in 1989. Survivors include his former wife Sallie Belle Gwaltney of Smithfield, Va.; five sons, Vincent (Janet) Benedetti of Richmond, Va., Mark (Claudia) Benedetti of McLean, Va., Stephen (Heather) Benedetti of Richmond, Va., Matthew (Lisa) Benedetti of Richmond, Va., and Thomas (Liz) Benedetti of Richmond, Va.; one daughter, Maria Benedetti of Nashville, Tenn.; two brothers; and 13 grandchildren.

Published in Washington Times on Nov. 24, 2014
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