Hugh Benet Jr., 77, executive at Blue Cross, ship curator

January 26, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Hugh Benet Jr., a retired insurance company official, noted amateur historian and former curator of the Constellation, died Saturday of heart failure at his Ruxton home. He was 77.

Mr. Benet joined Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland in 1948 and retired as vice president and director of operations in the early 1980s.

An amateur historian of considerable reputation whose specialty was military history and weaponry, he was regarded as an expert on the Constellation's guns. He had a deep interest in the Civil War and collaborated on a book about Confederate handguns.

He became interested in the Constellation while serving in the 1950s as director of the Flag House, which was responsible for the vessel that arrived in Baltimore from Newport, R.I., in 1955.

The Constellation, constructed in 1854, is the last sailing warship built by the U.S. Navy and the only Civil War naval ship still afloat. The ship is being restored at Maryland Port Administration Pier 8 in Locust Point.

Born in Lookout Mountain, Tenn., and raised in Ruxton, Mr. Benet traced his Maryland ancestry to 1638.

He was a graduate of Woodberry Forest School in Orange, Va. The Naval Reserve officer was attending the Johns Hopkins University when he was called to active duty in 1941 during World War II.

As an intelligence officer, he was assigned North Atlantic convoy duty and served aboard the destroyer USS Wichita in the Pacific. He remained an active reservist and was discharged in the early 1960s with the rank of lieutenant commander.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Hopkins in 1947.

He was a former member of the Johns Hopkins Club and the L'Hirondelle Club.

He was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Carrollton and Boyce avenues in Ruxton, where a memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

He is survived by his wife, the former Grace Brown Alpert; two sons, Hugh Benet III and Christie Benet, both of Ruxton; a daughter, Grace Benet Smith of Ruxton; a sister, Ann L. F. Yellott of Cockeysville; and seven grandchildren.

Pub Date: 1/26/99

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