Bennie J. Reiges passed peacefully from this life Oct. 22, 2020 surrounded by family. Bennie bravely and with dignity battled dementia before passing into eternal life with God.
Born March 4, 1920, in Worcester, Massachusetts, Bennie was one of three children of Jeremiah and Adelia Reiges who immigrated from Lithuania. Bennie spent his formative years in Worcester where he was a star athlete in basketball, baseball and football, which earned him an athletic scholarship to Bordentown Military Academy in New Jersey. After graduating from Bordentown, Bennie was again given an athletic scholarship, this time to Georgetown University in Washington D.C. where he played football until he left college in his sophomore year to join the Army Air Corps (later to become the U.S. Air Force) at the start of World War II. Bennie earned his aviation wings and served three years in the Army as a flight instructor for B-17 bomber pilots until the end of the war.
While in the Army Bennie met the love of his live, Dorothy Weaver (Dot) who was working as a volunteer at Maxwell Air Force Base where he was stationed. Dot and Bennie were joined in marriage on Nov. 9, 1945. Upon discharge from the Army Air Corp, Bennie and Dot moved to Los Angeles, California where Bennie was given an athletic scholarship to play football for UCLA, where he played quarterback in the 1947 Rose Bowl. He was thereafter drafted by the New York Yankee football team, as well as the Chicago Bears.
However, after graduating from UCLA, Bennie joined the FBI, and one of his most prized possessions was his acceptance letter signed by J. Edgar Hoover. However, the constant moving required by the FBI did not suit Bennie’s desire for a stable family life and so after two years, he left the agency and he and Dot moved to Pensacola, Florida, where they lived for 50 years until his retirement from Monsanto Corporation. Later he relocated to Oregon to be closer to family and then in 1999 he moved to Coronado where he lived the remainder of his life.
Bennie enjoyed life to the fullest. He was an avid golfer and played well into his 90s, always more than willing to share his thoughts on the golf swing. He and Dot loved to dance and were avid Bridge players. They made quick friends wherever they lived. Aside from his social activities, Bennie was also active in his local community for many years to include volunteering for Pensacola Mental Health Association (President), Pensacola Navy League (President), Junior Achievement and various other civic organizations. He was always at the ready to lend a helping hand. He was a continuing donor to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, St. Vincent DePaul and various other organizations supporting the homeless.
Bennie and Dot’s marriage was one of unwavering commitment of love and loyalty to family and friends. They both possessed strong family values and nothing mattered more to them than their family. Bennie valued being a father, grandfather and husband above all else. He considered his family his most cherished accomplishment. He was also the best friend one could have. He had deep and enduring friendships throughout his life. Bennie had a vivacious and vibrant personality and you were always uplifted in his presence. He touched all of us with his caring and kindness, always giving of himself. Even at the end, his last parting words to his family were “take care of yourself.” We are sure he is in Heaven right now watching over us, guiding and protecting us.
Bennie is survived by his two daughters, Nancy Reiges (Pete) Toennies, Penny Johnson, four grandchildren, Daniel Toennies and Kimberly Toennies, Jay Johnson and Jarred Johnson, great grandson Bently, as well as several nieces and nephews. Bennie was predeceased by his wife and siblings.
We want to thank all our family and friends for their continued love and support. Also, to the staff at Sun and Sea Manor, we so appreciated the loving care that you provided to dad during his last months of life. Your positive attitude and kindness made his transition easier for the family.
A private family service and life celebration will be held for Bennie at a later date.