Inez F. Benoit, 98: Community volunteer, worked in family business

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Inez F. Benoit died at a local nursing home Dec. 10, at the age of 98.

The daughter of Robert C. and Flora Braun Sutherland, she was born June 13, 1917, in Texas City, Texas. One of eight siblings, Benoit grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her father was employed by the U.S. Postal Service and her mother was a seamstress and homemaker.

Benoit attended local parochial schools, graduated from St. Mary’s High School and received a degree from Blair Business College. As a young woman, she played competitive table tennis and won the Colorado State Junior Women’s Championship in 1938. After graduating from Blair she was employed from 1937-39 with the Alexander Film Company in Colorado Springs as the secretary to the president. In 1940 Benoit moved to Dallas, Texas, and worked in the U.S. Department of War, district office, as an administrative assistant to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

While in Texas, she met Cape Elizabeth native Lt. Robert “Bob” Benoit, who was in the U.S. Army Air Corps. The couple married in 1943. Following the end of the war, they moved to Maine, where Bob Benoit joined his father, Oscar L. Benoit, working in the family-owned clothing stores in Lewiston and Portland. In 1954,  they settled in their Cape Elizabeth home, where they lived for 54 years.

A mother and homemaker, Benoit was engaged in numerous school and community activities, including the PTA, Cub Scouts, Little League, Cape Elizabeth Garden Club and a local bridge club. She was a neighborhood fundraiser for the American Heart Association and other local charities. After her children were grown, Benoit went to work in the family clothing business on Congress Street in Portland. She loved working in the store and meeting the many interesting people who patronized the business.

The couple retired from the family business in 1991 and enjoyed many years of travel to Europe, Central America, Hawaii, the Caribbean and Mexico. They acquired a timeshare in Mazatlan, Mexico, and stayed there several weeks each winter for many years. They also enjoyed a seasonal cottage each summer on Green Lake in Ellsworth. In their later years, the Benoits dined frequently at the Saltwater Grill in South Portland, enjoying a cocktail and pleasant chatter with the patrons and staff.

While living at Kindred Assisted Living – Village Crossings in Cape Elizabeth for the last seven years, Benoit continued into her early 90s to assemble complex 1,000-piece puzzles and enjoyed playing Scrabble. She also always had a warm smile, a hug and a kiss for all who passed her way.

Benoit was predeceased by her husband, who died in 2008 after 64 years of marriage, as well as seven siblings, Edward, Jesse, Spencer, Robert, Thomas, Flora Dee and Iola.

She is survived by a brother, Thomas, of the state of Washington; three children, Sharon Benoit, of Monmouth, Jeff Benoit, of Kennebunk and Larry Benoit, of Cape Elizabeth; six grandchildren, Jeff Benoit, of Gorham, Heidi Mitchel,l of Kennebunkport, Nicole Benoit Downs, of Westbrook, Rob Benoit, of Boston, Massachusetts, Elizabeth Benoi,t of Arlington, Virginia, Fran Mehra, of Manhattan, New York; and eight great-grandchildren.

The Benoit family wishes to thank the staff at Kindred Assisted Living – Village Crossings in Cape Elizabeth for their care.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23, at St. Bartholomew’s Church, 8 Two Lights Rd., Cape Elizabeth. Burial will follow at Forest City Cemetery, South Portland.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Marr Alzheimer’s Research Fund, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, at, or Mercy Hospital, at