Joseph Benedict, a beloved San Lorenzo Valley educator, led a long, varied and active life. He moved to Santa Cruz County 50 years ago with his late wife, Kathryn. He served as Director of Instruction and Superintendent of San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District, and was later principal of Quail Hollow Elementary School.
Joe was born in Great Falls, Montana, where he developed a lifelong love of the outdoors. He enjoyed hiking, skiing, camping and fishing with friends and family. He was a proud member of the Sierra Club and supporter of numerous conservation groups.
Joe was an Army Air Force fighter pilot in World War II, serving in the Pacific theater as a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot in Iwo Jima. He later received his BA from Stanford University, his MA from Long Beach State and his Ed.D. in Reading from the University of Northern Colorado.
Before moving to Santa Cruz, Joe taught at elementary and secondary schools in Southern California and was a rural supervisor, curriculum writer and proficiency test developer in several Northern California counties. He was active in the International Reading Association and Phi Delta Kappa; he was also a member of the group that established the Association of California School Administrators.
Joe remained active in retirement, serving on the Board of Bay Federal Credit Union and working with Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, where he met his second wife of 15 years, Margaret Waller Benedict.
He is survived by his wife, Margaret, children Kent Benedict (Paula), Dana Benedict (Michelle), Carolyn Baird (Charlie) and Barbara Kimball (Spencer), stepchildren Kirk Waller (Caren), Dan Waller and Mike Waller (Helen), and grandchildren Karl, Andrew, Todd, Alix, Sarah, Jill, Jeff, Grant, Greyson and Griffin.