DiFabio, Benita (Gordon) of Ventnor, NJ, 84, passed away on May 18, 2020 at Paoli Hospital in Paoli, PA after a courageous and hard-fought 54-day battle with COVID-19 and its horrific effects.
Benita was born on September 28, 1935 in Philadelphia, PA to Leon and Anna (Holub) Gordon. Benita, her younger sister, and younger brother, along with their mother, permanently relocated to Atlantic City in 1942 where her mother’s family lived. She grew up being extremely close to her grandmother, Celia Holub, who escaped Tsarist Russia, and her three maternal Aunts, Rose, Lee, and especially Rae, who become like a second mother to her. Her childhood dream was to be an archeologist, but being the child of a divorced mother in the 40’s and 50’s, the family couldn’t afford for her to attend college; however, that didn’t stop Benita from educating herself throughout her life. She was an avid reader on a variety of subjects with Shakespeare, Philosophy and Religion being among her favorites. She had an impressive vocabulary and was able to talk to anyone on any topic at any time. Benita attended Atlantic City High School Class of 1953.
She was also a big music fan and worked in a record store in Atlantic City when she was a teenager. She liked all different genres of music. In recent years, her favorite was Bruce Springsteen, not only for his music but also for his activism and beliefs. Her favorite song of his was Brilliant Disguise and really enjoyed his recent Broadway show when it was on Netflix.
She was a very religious and spiritual person and held religious customs and family traditions near to her heart. She and her husband, Phil, came from two different religious backgrounds but that never caused a problem for either one of them. She and Phil and their 4 kids always celebrated both Jewish and Catholic holidays as a family and embraced it all.
Benita was always an independent woman, like her mother before her. She was never subservient to anyone, always spoke her mind and was liberated way before the women’s movement. She always lived her life with a high degree of morals and values which she and her husband passed on to their children. She was a wonderful mix of old-world traditions with a twist of modernism and a sprinkle of whimsy. She was always fun and daring and fearless. Nobody and nothing intimidated her.
She also had very strong political beliefs and worked for the Board of Elections in Atlantic City for several years. Her mind and memory were always functioning at 100%. She had a gift of being able to recall names and dates at any given time when no one else was able to do so. Her memory was amazing!
Benita had a magnetic and powerful presence with a personality that would just draw you in. She was a devoted and beloved wife, daughter, grandmother, granddaughter, sister, niece, and friend, but her biggest joy was being a mother.
She always put her children first, above everyone and everything else. She and her beloved husband, Phil, were married for nearly 63 years and had 4 amazing children, 3 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
Benita and “Hollywood” Phil were married on September 18, 1957, when she was 21 years old and he was 22 years old. He would always say that he married her because she was so beautiful and so highly intelligent. The first time he saw her he was up on a ladder painting his mother’s house on Florida Avenue and he saw a gorgeous girl walking down the street in a bathing suit and high-heeled shoes and dark sunglasses. He said he nearly fell off the ladder as he watched her in amazement. They lived in the same Duck Town neighborhood but traveled in different circles, so he was determined to meet her through a mutual friend, Bobby Sulprizio. Little did they know at the time, but this would turn into a nearly 63 year marriage and would continue an amazing tradition of having special life events taking place on the 18th of the month, a sign of good luck (Chai) in the Jewish faith.
Once her children were grown, Benita started working at the original Golden Nugget in Atlantic City and became a shop chairman for LOCAL 54. She excelled at her job, making many friends, and gaining respect from peers all along the way, until she retired shortly after the death of her daughter, Debbie. Benita worked at the Golden Nugget for “18” years.
Benita is predeceased by her loving daughter, Debbie Bancheri; mother, Anna (Holub) Gordon; father, Leon Gordon; brother, Mayer Gordon, and also, special friends, Hilda, Rosina, Jenny, Marie, Peggy and many beloved aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
Benita lived with her husband, Phil, daughter, Cecelia, grandson, Dean, and her dog, Bruce (named for Bruce Springsteen) for the last 6 years in their lovely home in Ventnor.
She leaves to cherish her memory her loving and devoted husband, Phil; son, Philip (Susan) of Haverford, PA; son, Gaetano “Guy” (Matt) of Miami, FL, daughter, Cecelia “Sippy” DiFabio; sister, Rosalind (Gordon) Feldsher of Penn Valley, PA; grandchildren, Chrissy (Matt) Crean, Vinnie Bancheri and Dean Dudek; great-grandchildren Allison, Rebecca, and newborn, Anna Crean; sister-in-law, Grace (DiFabio) Eagan of EHT, NJ; special niece Dallyn Pavey Uosikkinan (David) of Wayne, PA and Elisa Jo Eagan of EHT, NJ, and many nephews, nieces, cousins and friends.
A Memorial Service and Life Celebration will take place for Benita once restrictions due to COVID-19 are lifted.