Huburn Percival Benjamin gained his heavenly wings on Tuesday, December 12, 2023. Affectionately known as Benji, he was born on June 20, 1938, in Berbice, Guyana, the sixth of ten children to Dilotta and Sancho Benjamin. From a very early age, Benji excelled in school and demonstrated a pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit. As a teenager assisting on the family farm, he convinced his parents to open a store to sell the farm’s produce and other goods. Benji helped to build the structure and paved the way for the family’s successful operation of a local convenience store for several decades. After graduation from high school, Benji pursued his life-long love of education, becoming a secondary school educator.
In 1965, Benji immigrated to Quebec, Canada to pursue a career as a surgeon, but it was not to be. Within a year of his arrival, he suffered life-threatening injuries in a serious car accident.
While in Montreal, Benji excelled professionally, beginning as a foreman at Canadair, where he led the oversight of the construction of aircraft wings. Despite his success in advancing through the ranks of Canadair’s management, Benji’s irrepressible entrepreneurial spirit resurfaced, inspiring him to pursue his real estate license. It was not long thereafter that he blazed the trails in forming his own real estate company, Benjamin Realty, Inc. – believed to be a first for a Black man in the French-speaking province of Quebec. As a Realtor, Benji was both instrumental and innovative in spearheading first-time homeownership for so many in the Quebec Caribbean and immigrant community.
As the political language issues in Quebec boiled over and led to a devastating economic downturn, Benji relocated to the United States. There, he formed another company that included operations in Guyana, where he spent many years helping grow his new business.
Throughout his life, Benji was committed to civic and community service. He was a dynamic public speaker, a self-taught musician and band leader, and a consummate extrovert with a passion for life and learning. Among his greatest love was his membership and many leadership positions in two Fraternal Orders: first, in Montreal as a Mechanic and later as a Freemason, when he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2005. While in New Mexico, Benji married Vilma Newman, with whom he remained until his death.
Benji leaves to cherish his memory, his wife, Vilma; his children: daughters Roxanne (Kenny), Denise, and Saskeia, and sons Michael (Andrea), Gregory (Dana), and Omarie; along with 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; sisters Sheila, and Ada; and countless nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and a host of other relatives and friends. May Benji rest in eternal peace.