Charles Raymond Benjamin, a retired American Telephone & Telegraph supervisor and fisherman, died of cancer Wednesday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. He was 79 and lived at the Glen Meadows retirement community in Glen Arm.
Mr. Benjamin was born in Long Branch, N.J., and reared in Colts Neck, N.J. He graduated from Red Bank (N.J.) High School in 1941, and was working as a draftsman when he enlisted in the Army in 1942.
He served with an artillery company in the North African and Italian campaigns and participated in the liberation of Rome in June 1944.
While serving with the 5th Army under the command of Gen. Mark Clark, which helped establish the provisional government after the collapse of fascism, Mr. Benjamin met his future wife, who had been trapped with her father and sister in Rome because of the war.
"I was a displaced 19-year-old Greek-American citizen when Rome was liberated. All day the Germans were retreating and by 10 p.m. the Allied troops moved in and all of Rome took to the streets. No one slept that night," said Mr. Benjamin's wife of 57 years, the former Irene Arteros.
"A wrong phone call by a captain looking for an American major was taken by my sister. When he heard her speaking English, she told him our story and he told us if there was anything he could do to help us, to come by the office," she said.
"I went there looking for a job and that's where I met Ray. He was working with the Army's Civilian Censorship Group, which was part of the Allied Commission. We dated, fell in love, and got married in Rome in 1945," she said.
After Mr. Benjamin was discharged, the couple returned to New Jersey, where he worked in the New York, New Haven Hartford Railroad Shops, before taking a job as an AT&T lineman in 1947. He rose through company ranks and at the time of his 1985 retirement was a supervisor.
The couple lived in Fallston for 10 years before moving to the retirement community last year.
"Ray was an avid surf fisherman and fished from Sandy Hook to Cape May," said Mrs. Benjamin.
Mr. Benjamin collected seashells and rocks, which he displayed in his home. He also enjoyed traveling.
Services will be held at 2:30 p.m. at Glen Meadows Retirement Community, 11630 Glen Arm Road.
In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, William R. Benjamin of Valley Center, Calif,; a daughter, Kathy B. Setaro of Carney; and four grandchildren.