BANGOR – Maj. Gen. Jay Grant Benton, 90, passed away peacefully at his home, Aug. 31, 2013. He was born Jan. 18, 1923, son of Lillian Benton Schults and Russell Schults, in Mineola, N.Y. and was raised in Monmouth.
He attended the University of Maine and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. He entered flying training as an aviation cadet in April of 1943 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in June of 1944. During World War II he served in the European Theater of Operations as a decorated fighter pilot with the 9th and 12th Air Forces. After the war he was assigned to the Maine Air National Guard. He was reassigned during the Korean Conflict with the fighter interceptor squadrons with the Air Defense Command. Following his completion of his tour of active duty he returned to the Maine Air National Guard and subsequently served as Squadron Commander, Group Commander, Wing Director of Operations and Wing Commander of the 101st Fighter Interceptor Wing. Upon the unit’s conversion to the 101st Air Refueling Wing in 1976, General Benton became its wing commander and served in that assignment until 1979 when he was promoted to Major General. After 39 years of distinguished service to his country he had earned many awards and medals. He was active among other things in the United Way, the Challenger Learning Center, the Bangor area Power Squadron, the Action Committee of 50 for local business development, and was an avid skier, golfer, and sailor. His later years were spent traveling abroad and enjoying time spent with family and friends in Maine and at his Florida home in Boca Grande.
Surviving are his wife, Hope Hutchins Benton; Jay’s daughter, Jo Wilkins of Williamsville, N.Y.; daughter, Jayne Reeves and husband, Scott, of Dexter; son, Eric Benton with wife, Rainelda of Olympia, Wash.; the mother of his children, Meg Benton of Hampden; Hope’s children, Julia Bracken of Salisbury Cove and Alec DiNapoli with wife, Andrea of Falmouth; grandchildren, Ian and Kaitlin O’Donnell of Williamsville, N.Y.; Joseph Reeves of Kentucky; Noah and Hadley Bracken of Salisbury Cove; Charlie and Claire DiNapoli of Falmouth; Rachel Goode, Ellie Vokes, and Tim Benton of Bangor; and Keneisha Benton of Olympia, Wash.; great-grandson, Dakota Tigue of Cheektowaga, N.Y.; great-granddaughters, Shirley and Joey-Lee Goode of Bangor; sister-in-law, Hilda Hutchins McCollum; and dear family friends, Karen Schacht and Sharon Hoover, all of Bangor.
Friends may call from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, at Brookings-Smith, 133 Center St., Bangor, where funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, with Rev. Dr. James L. Haddix, Pastor & Teacher, of All Souls Congregational Church, officiating. The family invites relatives and friends to share conversation and refreshments at the Family Reception Center of Brookings-Smith, 163 Center St., Bangor, following the service. Interment will be at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor. The family wishes to express their deep gratitude to the staff of New England Home Health Care, Hospice CHCS, Maine Veterans Home, and St. Joseph’s Hospital, among the many who helped care for this remarkable and loving man during his transition. Those who wish to remember Jay in a special way may make gifts to any of the agencies or facilities involved in his care or to the veterans at the Wounded Warrior Project www.woundedwarriorproject.org/donate or the Challenger Learning Center of Maine, 30 Venture Way, Bangor, ME 04401. Condolences to the family may be expressed at www.BrookingsSmith.com.