With hearts heavy, yet brimming with cherished memories, we bid farewell to the legendary Benjamin Franklin Leath, who, at the golden age of 101, departed from our world on Sunday, October 8, 2023. He breathed his last, enveloped in the love of his family, at the Kettering Health Care Hospital in Dayton, OH.
Benjamin's journey began in the quaint town of Columbia, Alabama, and later he set down deep roots in Plainfield, where he lived for over six enriching decades. Seeking the warmth of familial ties, he spent his last 22 years in Glenn Dale, Maryland, nurturing his bond with his beloved daughter.
For many in Plainfield, Benjamin's face is synonymous with the yellow school bus, as he devoted three decades of his life serving as the city's pioneering school bus driver for the Plainfield Board of Education. He wore this title with pride, driving generations to school with care and commitment.
A man of deep faith, Benjamin was a beacon of spirituality at St. Bernard’s RC Church in Plainfield. As a Eucharistic minister, he served with dedication, reinforcing the Church's teachings with his own life's example.
Together with his dearly missed wife, Irene, Benjamin stood as a testament to community service and altruism. Advocating tirelessly for the homeless and the underserved, the couple's philanthropic efforts have been etched in the annals of Plainfield's history. Their dedication was fittingly acknowledged when in May 2022, Watson Ave, the street they lived on for many years, was renamed in their honor as Irene and Benjamin Leath Way.
Music flowed in Benjamin's veins. His hands, even at 101, gracefully strummed his guitar and deftly played the harmonica and piano. A recent memory captures him, engrossed in song, accompanied by his physical and occupational therapists, and nurse. Beyond his musical prowess, he was a master at the checkerboard, always open to a challenge, and invariably emerging victorious against opponents, many of whom were but a fraction of his age. He loved reminiscing and sharing special memories with Margie Long.
Above all, it was family and friends that held the most special place in Benjamin's heart. From intimate gatherings to grand celebrations, he was the life and soul of every occasion.
While we mourn the loss of this extraordinary soul, we take solace in the memories he left behind. Predeceased by his adoring wife Irene of 60 cherished years in 2007, and his siblings, Benjamin's legacy lives on through his daughters, Annette Leath-Burgess and Elaine Leath-Huguely (Michael), his grandchildren Ni’Cole Prescott, Brandi Huguely and Michael Huguely II (Anna), his great-grandson Michael Huguely III, and his special niece Joanne Leath. A constellation of extended family and friends, whose lives he touched, will forever remember, and celebrate Benjamin Franklin Leath.
In honor of Benjamin's life, a funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, October 27, 2023, at St. Bernard's Church, 368 Sumner Avenue, Plainfield, NJ. He will be laid to rest at Hillside Cemetery.