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Gayle Benn passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, October 24, surrounded by her family, after a lengthy battle with urothelial cancer. She was born on February 13,1942 to Shirley (Saroff) and Louis Kessler in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up with her younger brother Chet in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. She attended Syracuse University graduating with a Bachelors Degree in English and Journalism. She worked as a copyrighter, first at a local radio station in her hometown, then moved into a public relations career at several non-profit organizations, including Jewish Federation, Sea World Research Institute in San Diego and MOPA in Balboa Park. Her writing and PR skills were highly sought and valued by the many organizations for which she volunteered. Not surprisingly, Gayle was an avid reader and throughout her life belonged to numerous book clubs wherever she and her husband Barry lived. She also loved mahjong, outings with the Havurah, desert trips with “The Rats” and was always very involved with synagogue and Jewish community life wherever they lived.
Speaking of Barry, she met her future husband while working in Lebanon because he was the brother of a very dear friend of her parents with whom she was living. They fell in love and wed in Lebanon on May 24 1964. Barry rejoined the US Navy and soon after they began a journey of many posts and deployments including Pensacola FL, San Diego CA, North East, MD,Honolulu HI, Alameda CA, back to San Diego and finally to Washington DC at which time Barry-having ascended to the rank of Captain, retired and they moved back to San Diego-their current residence. Gayle thrived in the role of Navy Wife and enjoyed life in different cities throughout the US.
Gayle and Barry, married almost 60 years at the time of her death, had 2 spectacular daughters-Lori (Peter and granddaughters Talia and Danica)and Alisa -‘Ali’ (Blake and grandsons Jake, Tyler and Chase-who with his wife Toni, gave them greatgrandkids Dominic and Desi). Indeed, family and friends were always THE most important things in Gayle’s life. Perhaps chief among her favorite activities was traveling with family and friends-trips to Disney, family resorts, ocean and river cruising very often with her mom, brother, children/grands and dear friends. They would spare no effort to attend grandkids sporting activities in any climate extreme! She had incredibly close relationships with family and friends no matter how far apart they lived. If you knew Gayle well, you loved her and could feel her love for you. ALL of her close family were by her side at the end-a tribute to her very full and loving life.
Gayle is survived by her husband Barry, brother Chet (Debbie), daughters Lori (Peter) and Ali (Blake), grandchildren Jake, Tyler, Chase, Talia and Danica and great grandchildren Dominic and Desi. A funeral service will be held on Thursday Oct 26 at 1:00pm at El Camino Memorial Park 5600 Carroll Canyon Road San Diego CA, directly followed by shiva at the family’s home from 2-5:00 pm on Thursday and 12:00-3:00 on Friday. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Hadassah, The American Cancer Society or a charity of your choice in honor of Gayle.