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Benjamin Gonzalez

Benjamin Gonzalez Jr.

Monday, October 21st, 1940 - Sunday, April 26th, 2020
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Obituary

That smile….that smile….that smile….when I speak to anyone about my grandfather, ​Benjamin Gonzalez, the first thing they’ll always mention is his radiating, ear to ear smile. Every story, every memory, and every kindness that involves Benjamin begins and ends with that gorgeous smile. It could turn a terrible day around in an instant and light up the entire world for anyone that knew him and loved him.

So it’s with the greatest sadness to announce Benjamin’s passing on the night of April 26th, 2020, after a month-long battle with coronavirus. Everyone would be proud and frankly not surprised at all to hear that my grandfather gave this virus one hell of a fight. For weeks he fought to try and get healthy so that he could get back home. Where he could make my grandmother a plate of extra crispy French fries and they could watch their favorite telenovelas with my uncles sitting next to them. Back home, where he could sit on his porch rightfully upholding his unofficial position as the neighborhood elder of East New York. Where guys from all over the neighborhood would come to laugh and gossip with him, about cars (he always wanted another Camaro), about the new people moving in next-door (the new guy was much quieter than the last guy) and about what a beautiful Brooklyn day it was, (even though it was never quite as beautiful as a humid day back home in Puerto Rico.) My grandfather had a spectacular life worth fighting for.

But despite Benjamin’s best efforts and his relentless spirit, he passed from this world and into a much better one that Sunday night. Even though his death is unspeakably tragic for his family and those who knew him and loved him, the 79 and a half years that he lived were filled with incredible wonders and momentous treasures. It’s this story, the story of 79 long years of love, kindness, and compassion that we choose to recognize and honor. It’s what brings us great serenity, comfort, and most important of all, pride. We all share this intense pride in having known him, loved him, and having had the privilege to spend even the smallest amount of time in his presence. So let me take a moment to tell you the story of this monumental man, the hope he inspired in legions of family, friends, and strangers, and that damn smile that he left us all with. The smile none us will soon forget and that we know is watching over us right now and always.

The world thankfully became a much better place on October 21, 1940, after Benjamin Gonzalez Jr. was born to the late Benjamin Gonzalez Sr. and Maria Balaguer in Moca, Puerto Rico. Called Junior by his family, he was the oldest son out of a total of eight children, a role that he cherished and excelled in. Growing up, his family did not have a lot of money, their first home was in a wooden shack by a creek and so my grandfather stopped going to school at 8 years old to help out on the family farm. He would feed, buy, sell, and even help deliver baby calves and horses while working on the farm to help support his family. (I’ll never forget the first time he made me milk a cow — it was terrified and so was I.) It’s during these formative years that the man we all came to admire was created. The man who would do anything for anyone, whether it was the people he loved the most or a random stranger in need of kindness. It’s this drive that led him at the age of 16 to go to New York City, the center of the world and begin to build a life for himself. And build a life he did, he started to gain a foothold in the city working at a factory, and just when he did, his life changed forever. When on a trip back to Puerto Rico he met his soulmate, my grandmother, Gloria Caban.

For over 60 years the two of them were married, and let me tell you, they were madly in love. They raised a beautiful family together in New York City and watched their lives and the lives of their loved ones prosper. They settled down, my grandmother became a homemaker [who not so secretly was in charge. We all know that when my grandmother says it’s time to go home, you better be in the car and ready to leave in two minutes flat.] My grandfather would go on to become a jack of all trades - property owner, mechanic, car salesman, community pillar, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend and confidant. The two of them did it together, inseparable from the very first moment.


But there’s no way I can tell the story of my grandparent’s relationship without telling one story in particular that encapsulates their love. A couple of years ago my grandmother got sick and was in the hospital. My entire family - both her children and grandchildren went to visit her one day. We sat around her bed, cracking jokes and making her laugh, while my grandfather sat by smiling and watching over his lady. The end of visiting hours was swiftly approaching and a perfectly kind nurse came in to give us our “15-minute warning,” it was almost time to leave. It was at this point that my grandfather pulled me aside to a corner of the room. “What do you mean I have to go home? No, I don’t think so, I’m staying with her, he said” motioning to my beautiful grandmother in her hospital bed. I tried to tell him that this just wasn’t possible, hospitals had rules, even for him. He looked at me seriously for a second, thinking hard and then motioned to the large wooden closet in the corner of the room. “If they won’t let me stay, I’ll hide in there, you’ll help me,” he said. A big smile crept across his face, but he wasn’t joking, not even a little bit. That is the undying, unflinching, unrelenting dedication my grandfather had towards his wife and soulmate. The sun has always risen and set with my grandmother and he would shift galaxies if it meant she was happy and healthy. He brought that same fierceness to his children, his grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren. There wasn’t a single moment that we didn’t feel loved, cared for, and admired. Whether it was him slipping us 20 dollar bills when our parents weren’t looking, laughing at my poor excuse for Spanish or taking a 2000 mile road trip to see his latest great-grandchild, we’ve always known that the man with the giant smile loved us with everything he had - no matter what. (Oh and by the way — he got his way — they let him stay in her hospital room, no hidden closet tricks needed.)

So it’s with this remarkable life in mind that we put our beloved Benjamin to rest. Although, if I know my grandfather at all he’ll be busy keeping a careful eye on all of us to make sure that we are okay. He’s also probably having the time of his life with his parents that he worshipped and his sister Irma that he adored. The man who went from a farm in Puerto Rico to a house of his own in Brooklyn. Who had a full life, with a loving wife and a beautiful family. A life with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, marriages, graduations, countless trips to Puerto Rico (he really loved that humidity) and lots and lots of cars. It was this unbelievable life that made him smile that beautiful unforgettable smile, that none of us will soon forget.

So, grandpa - we promise you, none of us will ever let you go. The world may seem dark right now but each of us will find our way to the light and we’ll bring your memory and smile there with us. And we’ll make sure to keep an extra close eye on grandma (and do it without hiding in any closets and scaring her.) Nosotros te amamos. Siempre.


Left with decades of fond memories and amazing stories are his wonderfully weird wife, Gloria Gonzalez. His children; Benjamin Gonzalez, Edwin Gonzalez, Sonia Buzzetti (Barry Buzzetti), and Robert Gonzalez. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren; Jessica, Anthony, Stephanie, Kaitlyn, Christie, Joseph, Robert, Richard, Sky, and Mateo. His siblings; Primitiva, Efrain, Nelson, Carmen, Gloria, Carmen, Hector, Virginia, and the hundreds of people both in New York and Puerto Rico.

Even though my grandfather would say it’s not necessary, if you still feel compelled to give something, we ask in lieu of flowers or cards, to donate to https://www.cityharvest.org/give-now/ in Benjamin’s name. Supporting those who need help the most would be a terrific way of honoring his legacy. In the meantime, we know everyone probably has an amazing ‘Benjamin story’ and we would love to hear them. If you’d like to share a story or plant Memorial Trees in his memory, please visit www.scarrfuneralhome.net

Unfortunately, because of pandemic restrictions, we will not be having a wake or ceremony at this time. Our immediate family will be interring Benjamin on May 12th at St. Anthony’s Mausoleum in Nanuet, New York. Even though we’ll only be able to have a scaled-down interment, rest assured, once restrictions are lifted we promise we’ll have a full celebration. It’ll be a celebration worthy of Benjamin’s incredible legacy and the impact that he had on all of our lives. Stay tuned for that announcement and the opportunity for us all to join together to laugh, cry, and celebrate this extraordinary man. If you wish to visit his resting place in the future the address is 36 W Nyack Rd, Nanuet, NY 10954. Crypt — 147B. To leave condolences please visit www.scarrfuneralhome.net
Arrangements by the Scarr Funeral Home in Suffern, New York.
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MF

Millie Lugo & Family

Posted at 10:37am
Your family chain is broken and nothing seems the same ,but as God calls us one by one the chain will Link again . RIP Benjamin
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EG

Efrain Gonzalez

Posted at 07:09pm
Lots of love and blessings to my brother Jr and his family. Junior you are now in beautiful heaven. You will be in our hearts and thoughts everyday, every week, every month and every year of our lives forever. Thank you for the great memories we shared. Like what I said to you always, I see you later bro...Hugs to all, Efrain & Ileana ❤🙏❤
ZL

Zena lopez

Posted at 04:52pm
Siempre estaras en nuestros corazones.Tu hermano Nelson y familia estamos de luto por tu perdida.Lamentamos no poder estar contigo.Se que vencistes y ya estas en el cielo. Le pido a Dios que consuele aGloria y a sus hijos y familia en estos momentos dificiles.Dios los bendiga a todos. Tu hermano Nelson y familia.
M

Madeline Quinones and family

Posted at 03:31pm
There are no words to describe the lost of Benjamin Gonzalez a great husband, father and grandfather . I will say he was a great man who walked this earth and loved by everyone he met . Rest In Peace
GG

Gloria Gonzalez

Posted at 11:30am
No hay palabras para definir nuestro dolor. Hermano, por siempre tu recuerdo permanecerá en nuestros corazones. Pido a Dios q nos fortalezca a todos! Goyita, Wilson y fam.
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