Richard Benitez passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, Oct. 6 after a battle with thyroid cancer.
Richard was born on Aug. 6, 1943, in San Bernardino, Calif. to Salbador and Concha Benitez. He grew up in Fontana, Calif. and later graduated from Fontana High School in 1961.
Richard attended night school at Chaffey Community College while working several jobs and being a single parent. After graduating with an AA he transferred to Cal Poly Pomona where he met his wife, Sharon. He graduated in 1971 and then continued his education at CSU Fullerton receiving his master’s in school administration. He went on to work for Pomona, South Whittier, and Desert Sands Unified School Districts before moving to Paso Robles in 1986. Richard became the Director of Student Services in 1990. He oversaw migrant, adult, bilingual and vocational programs.
During his years with Paso Robles school district, he was instrumental in the founding of the Paso Robles Youth Taskforce. He brought Cinco de Mayo events to Paso Robles. He became an active member of the Kiwanis club. He even played Santa Claus with the Paso Robles Police and Fire Departments bringing joy to bilingual children of the community.
After retiring in 2005, Richard got even more involved in his community. He helped supervise student teachers at both Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and the University of LaVerne. He helped start the Hispanic Business Association and continued his work with Kiwanis. Richard became a member of the Cal Retired Teacher Association. Traveling to both Sacramento and Washington D.C. to meet with senators and congressmen lobbying for teachers and students. He also was on the board of The Food Bank of SLO.
Richard is survived by his siblings, Arthur, Lillian, and Mary; and his children Richard, Sherie, Elizabeth, David, and Victoria. He was a proud grandpa to eight grandchildren: Sheridan, Serena, Sylvie, Evan, Aiden, Vivienne, Nia, and Noah.
A viewing and rosary was held on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 5 p.m. at Kuehl-Nicolay funeral home. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 4:30 p.m. at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Richard and Sharon Benitez scholarship fund through the CalRTA.