Obituary of Claudio Antonio Benedi
Claudio Antonio Benedi was born on September 15, 1944 to the late Claudio and Gladys (Garriga) Benedi in La Habana, Cuba. As a child, he enjoyed spending time at beaches, clubs, and farms until the government shifted first to Socialism, then Communism. He became involved in Movimiento Estudiantil to preserve human rights. In danger, he escaped Cuba in 1960 with his father, to avoid being forced into military service by the Communist regime. They fled to Mexico, Miami, then New York. Without a US Visa, he was forced to leave the US and take refuge in Honduras. Claudio enrolled at La Universidad Autónoma de Honduras while participating in several Cuban movements against Communism, fundraising and speaking on La Radio Swan. Once the family had been reunited in Honduras, the decision was made to move to Miami, then Arlington.
Claudio worked at many jobs to build a new life in the United States. He worked in a tomato field, as a parking lot attendant, tour guide, truck driver, and house painter. He joined the US Army in 1965, became a Chaplain’s assistant, and served as Military Police at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. His military awards included the National Defense Service Medal, Sharpshooter, and Good Conduct Medal. He and Mary were married in 1966, then welcomed Claudio Jr, their first child in 1967. He became a US Citizen in 1971 and welcomed their second child, Michelle. During this time, he was a Professor at the University of South Carolina. He next moved to Arlington, Virginia and worked at Riggs National Bank while waiting on his application for the Civil Service Commission, then became a Social Science Analyst. He worked his way up and moved to the Office of Personnel Management, where he became an Administrative Officer, Director of Federal Operations, and retired after 41 years in government service.
He enjoyed a long and blessed life. He fought against Communism until his death, and enjoyed a good political debate. He really enjoyed any debate. He never met a stranger though - everyone was an instant friend, and worthy of many stories. Claudio was willing to help or offer advice to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Quick to jump in, he would organize everyone and everything to solve any problem. He enjoyed shooting, hunting, and spending time outdoors with groups of friends, ever in search of game, specifically the Famous Grouse. He was the campfire cook, and evolved his skills to cooking any Cuban dish, especially Lechon Asado, Cuban Roast Pork. He was also the expert Noche Buena chef, preparing the Pierna, pork shoulder, over twelve painstaking hours, served with yuca.
An expert in new gadgets, he explored many ways to automatically start, maintain, and finish the pork. None matched his experienced hand, but he was always willing to try something new. He was first in line for every new gadget, whether pre-order or just released today. Whenever you saw him, he would say “Look at this new thing I just received!” Traveling with Mary, his family and friends, he always had the latest special suitcase, and gadget that could perform at least ten other functions. If that didn’t work, his trusty pocket knife would.
His favorite title was Abu. He doted on, spoiled, and did everything with his grandchildren. He was there for their first everything, took videos, pictures, made custom posters, and made sure every part of their life was special. He bought them their first pocket knife, sometimes many, until they were old enough to actually have one. He joined them for family vacations, braved the sandy beaches, and floated with them entirely too deep. He treasured every moment, and so do they.
Claudio found eternal peace on March 13, 2023. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Mary K Benedi, his son Claudio Benedi, Jr (Shannon), his daughter Michelle Pizzano (David), his grandchildren, Claudio, David, Jacquelyn, Michael, Madelyn, and Leah, his sister Gladys, brother Hector, and brother Antonio as well as many nephews, nieces, cousins, and extended family. Claudio was predeceased by Claudio F. Benedi, Gladys (Garriga) Benedi, and Alberto J. Benedi.
Services will be held at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More on Saturday, March 18, 2023. Visitation begins at 12:30pm, with Mass of Christian Burial at 1:30pm. Interment will follow after, at Columbia Gardens Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Heart Association.