The Rev. Daniel T. Benedict Sr. died peacefully on Friday (August 11, 2017) at the Fairport Baptist Home in Fairport, N.Y., surrounded by family. He was 94.
There will be no prior calling hours. A service to celebrate his life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26 at Park Presbyterian Church, 110 Maple Ct., Newark. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to: the First Baptist Church of Newark, 133 E. Miller St., Newark, NY 14513; the Newark Public Library, 121 High St., Newark, NY 14513; the Fairport Baptist Home, 4646 Nine Mile Road, Fairport, NY 14450; or The Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410.
Dan was born May 15, 1923, in Lebanon, N.Y., the son of the late Wayne and Erma Sherwood Benedict. He graduated from high school in Georgetown, N.Y., and attended Colgate University for two semesters before joining the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1942, where he served four years, earning the rank of staff sergeant.
After WWII, he and his wife, Edith, were dairy farmers for 17 years in Delphi Falls, N.Y.; Erieville, N.Y., and later in Sterling, N.Y. Dan was called into ministry in 1962 and went back to school, taking courses at SUNY Oswego, Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. and Boston Theological Seminary in Boston, M.A. He was ordained a local Elder of the Central New York Conference of The Methodist Church at Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University in 1967, and later as minister of word, sacrament, order and service.
Dan served The United Methodist Church for his early years in ministry, and later the American Baptist Churches USA. The congregations he served over 35 years in upstate New York were: Conquest and Spring Lake United Methodist churches, Branchport, Bluff Point and Friend United Methodist churches; Second Milo Baptist Church; First Baptist Church in Newark; the First Baptist Church of Geneva; the United Church of Genoa; the First Baptist Church of West Walworth; and a second time of service at First Baptist of Newark. In 2002, the Newark church held a celebration of his 35 years of ministry. He served a total of 15 years at First Baptist of Newark.
Dan was passionate about justice and world peace, and active in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, as well as the interfaith organization, “Pastors for Peace.” Dan took several Pastors for Peace mission trips to Cuba and Nicaragua. During one, he and a teacher drove a truck of humanitarian supplies from Rochester, N.Y. to Managua, Nicaragua as part of an aid caravan. Dan traveled to Lithuania for an American Baptist work project, and Dan and Edith participated in church-related tours to the former Soviet Union and Israel.
Journeys by foot, bike, horseback, wagon and sleigh were always a part of Dan’s life. As a teen of 15, he rode his bike from Lebanon, N.Y., to Kingsport, Tenn., to visit his eldest brother, Sam. In 1966, on the occasion of the Bicentennial of the Methodist Church in America, Dan rode his Tennessee Walker horse “Baldy” from Conquest, N.Y., to Baltimore, MD, more than 400 miles, staying with and preaching to congregations every night of the nearly one-month trip. Dan was one of 12 United Methodist ministers from across the nation chosen to reenact the historic “circuit rider” tradition of early American Methodist ministers.
Dan and his family loved hiking the Adirondack mountains, and he led many horse/mule-drawn wagon youth camps and youth bike camps in upstate New York, including biking across the northern end of the Finger Lakes in 1972, and the southern end in 1973. At age 85 – the oldest of more than 500 bikers – he and daughter, Rachel Doan, rode their bikes along the entire length of the Erie Canal, from Buffalo to Albany. On a pastoral trip to Cuba, Dan left his bike behind as a gift.
For years, Dan was a familiar sight around Newark, N.Y., riding his moped or bike, or providing horse-drawn wagon or sleigh rides to Newark school children. He and Edith hosted numerous Head Start children at the home farm to share his beloved draft horses, chickens, cows, cats and dog, “Pearl.” At home, Dan always had a heaping basket of toys, tricks and silly gags to delight children of all ages. Dan loved to read, starting each day with the Bible and many other good books. Planting trees and flying kites were hobbies he loved.
Dan was a big believer in ecumenical ministry, and was an early founder of the Together in Christ ecumenical group in Newark. He served as chaplain at the Newark Developmental Center, on the board of the Fairport Baptist Home, and was active with Geneva Kiwanis, the Finger Lakes Area Counseling and Recovery Agency and more. In 2001, Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes awarded Dan the “Sharing the Light” award. Well into their 80s, he and Edith delivered “Meals on Wheels” around Newark and led worship services at Armstrong Senior Living. Dan presented book review talks at the Newark Public Library, and for years, he and Edith dressed in costume to participate in elementary school reenactments of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island.
Dan is survived by his wife of 75 years, Edith Andrus Benedict and seven children the Rev. Daniel T. Benedict Jr. (Mary’O) of Waialua, Hawaii; Dexter Benedict (Faith) of Penn Yan; Steven Benedict (Linda) of Newark; Rebecca Bialaszewski (Robert) of Newark; Ruth Benedict (Jerry Rose) of Geneva; Rachel Doan (Alan) of Penn Yan and Esther Benedict (Norma Anderson) of Pipe Creek, Texas, as well as 22 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren.
He was predeceased by son, Gerry Benedict and his wife, Susan Benedict and his siblings Samuel, Mary, Esther, Paul and Gilbert.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Paul L. Murphy and Sons Funeral Home