In Loving memory of Elizabeth Josephine Mazzochi Benza
May 16, 1930-October 24, 2021
Elizabeth Josephine Mazzochi Benza, artist, singer, teacher, mentor and beloved wife, mother and grandmother died on October 24, 2021, at West Marion Community Hospital, from complications of heart failure. Born on May 16, 1930, she was the daughter of the late Peter Mazzochi and Providence LaPadura. “Liz”, as her close friends called her, was born in Manhattan and grew up in the Bronx, New York.
A graduate of Evander Childs High School in the Bronx, she later achieved an associate’s degree from Daytona Beach Community College. Liz was first and foremost a devoted mother of three boys, Louis, Raymond and Peter. She was a kind, gentle, and ever-present force in her boys’ lives, serving as their teacher, mentor, counsellor and ardent supporter. She was the quintessential “mother bear” who was strong as steel and a bold defender when life rose up and threatened her precious cubs. She was the master of unconditional love and she lived and breathed for her boys. She was an ever-shining lighthouse who no matter what storm at sea surged, anchored her sons and showed them the light to safety and calmer seas. Her children’s friends, spouses and grandchildren became her “children” too, serving them with the same tenacious guidance (whether they felt they needed it or not) and blankets of support.
As devoted as Liz was to her children, she was the bedrock in the life of her husband and constant companion of 69 years, her beloved Lou. She was his anchor when he served as a Marine in the Korean War and helped him make his dream of going to law school a reality. After the war, working as a supervisor at Lowenstein and Brothers in the garment district in New York City, she was by his side and his steadfast supporter through his rise in the political scene in the Bronx and his campaigns for the New York City Council and the State Senate. At the proudest moment of Lou’s legal career, Liz was there standing by his side as he took the oath of office as a judge of the New York State Court of Claims and later as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Anyone who knew Liz recognized that she was doing more than just holding that bible, it was her unyielding support that allowed Lou to accomplish his calling to his judicial career.
Liz was a talented sketch artist, creating beautiful compositions of her favorite things, including fashion, animals and portraits of her family. She was a swimsuit model in her youth, which captured the eye of a young lifeguard who later became her husband of 69 years. Her beauty was matched by her angelic voice and she vied for the lead role in the Broadway musical Oklahoma, where she made the last audition with Shirley Jones, who ultimately played the role. She role-modeled her passions and tenacious character to her boys and taught them the key to life was to never, ever, give up on their dreams.
Always the educator and leader, she put herself through college in her 50’s earning her associate degree and became the long-standing personnel administrator and eventual informal confidant to Dean Cleo Higgins of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida. At Bethune-Cookman, she became a local legend to the undergraduates, who knew they had to make it past “Liz” before their time were secured with the Dean. The Dean affectionately referred to her as her “sergeant at arms” and they remained close friends throughout their lives.
Liz was also known as the “Cat Woman” by her best friends and family. Her love of cats, particularly Persians, was profound. It pervaded her existence, defined her living space and decorations, and even converted her dog loving husband to a cat aficionado. In many ways these intelligent and beautiful creatures emulated Liz in terms of their unconditional love, devotion, companionship that they displayed to her and she displayed to others. Through her love of animals, she taught her sons and grandchildren the true meaning of love and humanity very early in life.
The birth of her grandchildren Evan, John and Ryan started a new chapter for Liz, where again she was able to pour her gifts for unconditional love and devotion. And did they indeed loved their “Nanna” back. She was the “cool” grandma who could text and emoji with them best of them, even better at times then her grandkids. She taught them these same principles of respect, integrity, selflessness and helpfulness that she imbued in her sons.
Liz is survived by her husband Louis of 69 years, her beloved sons Louis L. Benza, ESQ of New York City, NY; Raymond L. Benza M.D. of Pittsburgh, PA and Peter L. Benza, ESQ of Dunellen, New Jersey; daughter-in-law Dr. Edwina Chan-Benza of Pittsburgh, PA; the mother of Peter’s children Dr. Jennifer LaRosa; her three grandchildren Evan, John and Ryan, and her sister MaryAnn McCall of Dunnellon, Florida.
A memorial for Liz will be held on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. at Roberts Funeral Home of Dunnellon, 19939 E. Pennsylvania Ave, Dunnellon, Florida 34432 with a reception to follow at the Rainbow Springs Golf and Country Club’s Grille Room, 19330 SW 83rd Place Rd, Dunnellon, Florida 34432. A Funeral Mass will be conducted on October 27, 2021 at 10:00 AM at St John the Baptist Catholic Church, 7525 US 41, Dunnellon, Florida 34432, with a reception to follow in the social hall. On Saturday October 30, 2021 A Funeral Mass and Entombment will be held for Liz at the Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, NY. at 11 AM. Mom, your many acts of love are forever held in our hearts and captured in our minds.
HAWTHORNE FUNERAL HOME
21 West Stevens Ave
Hawthorne, New York 10532