2016-02-12 / Community News

Police Service volunteer dies after cancer battle

Jim Benedict also served as a town councilor in Scarborough
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Jim Benedict, a one-term town councilor and longtime volunteer with the police department, lost his battle with liver cancer in late January. Benedict was 67. (File photo) Jim Benedict, a one-term town councilor and longtime volunteer with the police department, lost his battle with liver cancer in late January. Benedict was 67. (File photo) Former Town Councilor Jim Benedict was the type of man who simply wanted to make Scarborough a better place to live and work.

Benedict, 67, who passed away after a fight with liver cancer on Sunday, Jan. 31, was a longtime member of Volunteers In Police Service, starting with the group when it was formed more than 10 years ago. The Volunteers In Police Service group aids the police department by helping with public safety patrols at parks, parking lots, beaches and neighborhoods, traffic control and parking enforcement, as well as community outreach efforts such as bicycle safety, child passenger seat safety, child identification and check-in calls to those confined to their homes. The group also offers the police department administrative help.

Benedict’s wife Claire said he “felt strongly about both” his work with the Volunteers in Police Service and town council, a group he served on from 2011 to 2014.

Benedict, she said, was quick to lend a helping hand in any way he could.

“Everyone knew him and liked him. He would do anything they asked him to do,” Claire said of Benedict, who was also a member of the Community Emergency Response Team in Saco.

Benedict had ties to Scarborough for 40 years, moving to town 15 years ago, after spending a quarter century summering here

Benedict, a 40-year construction professional, ran for council this past fall, telling the Leader in October if elected, he aimed to increase “transparency between board and citizens,” as well as find a better way to organize the budget through the use of a three to five year plan and eliminate conflict in the decision-making process.

Town councilors took some time at the meeting at their Feb. 3 meeting to honor and remember Benedict.

Jean-Marie Caterina said she and Benedict didn’t always see eye to eye while they served on the council together from 2013 to 2014, but that didn’t sour their relationship outside of council chambers.

“Jim and I did not always agree on fiscals and what we should be spending, but I loved him to pieces. I was sad to hear of his passing. He will be missed,” she said.

Councilor Chris Caiazzo never worked with Benedict as a councilor, but they did have interactions from 2013 to 2014 while Caiazzo was on the board of education.

“He was always a gentleman, never one to get angry or rowdy, which is always appreciated in tough budget times,” said Caiazzo, who beat Benedict this November in a five-way race for two open seats on the town council.

Council Chairman William Donovan said Benedict was quick to welcome him to the council when he was first elected to the post in November 2013.

“He was very kind to me, very welcoming,” Donovan said. “He had his own viewpoint on things, but that did not deter him from being friendly and a wonderful person to work with.”

Shawn Babine, who is in his second tenure on the council, thanked Benedict for all he did while on the council.

“Anyone who sits behind this table deserves respect of the entire town,” said Babine, who in 2014, bested Benedict, an incumbent at the time, in a seven-way race for three council seats. “I did not serve with him, but I do appreciate his service to the town and his family’s contribution to the town.”

Echoing the sentiment of many others, Town Manager Tom Hall said he was “certainly better for knowing him. He was a big personality at time, but had a big heart.”

Benedict is also survived by his daughters Michelle Taupier, of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, and Keri Cormier and Jennifer Benedict, who both live in Scarborough.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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