The boxing community has lost a legend.
Philadelphia boxing trainer George Benton died from pneumonia Monday morning at St. Joseph’s Hospital in North Philadelphia. He was 78.
Born May 15, 1933, in Philadelphia, Benton was a top rated welterweight and middleweight from 1940 to 1970.
Benton, who was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2001, posted a 61-13-1 record and held wins over Holly Mims, Lester Felton, Joey Giardello and Jimmy Ellis.
In 1970, Benton was an innocent bystander but suffered a gunshot wound that ended his ring career. He then went on to become a legendary trainer.
Benton trained a number of noted fighters throughout the years, including Bennie Briscoe, Joe Frazier, Evander Holyfield, Johnny Bumphus, Mark Breland and Mike McCallum. For 17 years, Benton worked together with Lou Duva and Main Events as the head trainer for many of their fighters.
In 1989 and 1990, the Boxing Writers Association of America awarded Benton “Trainer of the Year” honors.
“George Benton was one of the most knowledgeable teachers in the sport of boxing,” said International Boxing Hall of Fame Executive Director Edward Brophy.
“The Hall of Fame joins the boxing community in mourning his passing.”
Philadelphia Daily News columnist Elmer Smith referred to Benton as one of the most colorful characters in boxing.
“Philadelphia is a boxers’ town because it’s a place where there are a number of people who can teach kids to box — Georgie was one of the very best of them,” Smith says of his friend.
“What Georgie did so well was teach the fundamentals of the game. He was a great teacher of the game and understood it at the level that most people can’t even guess at.”
“He was one of the best ring technicians that I could remember. Georgie was not a big puncher but he was a fabulous boxer, who got absolutely the best out of his skills. There were guys who hit harder. There were guys who were quicker in the ring but nobody put it together like George. He took minor skills and turned them into a successful career as a fighter.”
As a trainer, Smith said Benton was able take kids who had minor skills and make them better than their skill set would have suggested.
“If they had really good skills, he was able to turn them into super fighters,” said Smith.
Smith often sought Benton’s advice when writing articles on boxing.
“He understood boxing in a way that I really didn’t and to have him available made it possible for me to write it as if I were an expert,” Smith added.
Benton was widely regarded as the best middleweight never to win a world title.
Philadelphia promoter Russell Peltz, a close friend of Benton, said Benton never got a title shot because of his manager, Herman Diamond.
“Benton’s real problem was his loyalty to manager Herman Diamond, who refused to do business with certain mob people and that’s why Benton never got a chance at Dick Tiger’s middleweight crown. In fact, the 160-pound title changed hands 22 times during Benton’s 21-year career and he never got a shot,” Peltz said.
A viewing will be held Sept. 26 from 9 a.m.–10 a.m., at Christlike Pleasant Green Faith Baptist Church, 2901 North 25th St. The memorial service will follow at 11.
All women must wear a dress or skirt to be admitted.
Melvin R. "Randy" Primas Jr., 62, the first African American mayor of Camden died March 1. He had bone-marrow cancer and lived in Fort Mill, S.C.
Primas was a key backer in the city's economic recovery efforts. He was first elected to City Council at age 23 and was elected mayor at 31.
On Friday, Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd ordered flags to fly at half-staff at all municipal buildings in Primas' honor.
Primas was elected mayor three times before being appointed by Gov. James J. Florio to head the state Department of Community Affairs in 1990.
After a stint as an executive for Commerce Capital Markets, then part of Commerce Bank, Mr. Primas returned to Camden in 2002 as its state-appointed chief operating officer following Trenton's takeover of the city.
He resigned in 2006 in a dispute with state Community Affairs Commissioner Susan Bass Levin over a memorandum of understanding that he refused to sign.
Primas was a friend of former State Sen. Wayne Bryant, a Camden County Democrat who is currently serving a four-year jail sentence on corruption charges for funneling millions to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in exchange for employment.
Primas was scheduled to be a witness in Bryant's second corruption trial, which began in January in Trenton. Prosecutors got the judge's permission to take a deposition from Primas because his poor health kept him from appearing in court.
A 1971 graduate of Howard University, Primas went on to become a vice president of Burger King Entities. After being elected to City Council, he became its president.
He was a trustee of Rowan University from 1993 to 1999.
Primas is survived by his wife, Bonita, and two sons, Melvin 3rd and Craig.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Steven L. Bennett Jr., affectionately called “Steve,” loved spending time with his family, especially his children, and traveling. Bennett died Feb. 8. He was 51.
Bennett was born to Steven L. Bennett Sr. and Mary L. Griffin-Bennett on May 30, 1960, in Philadelphia.
He was educated in the Philadelphia Public School System and graduated from Martin Luther King High School.
His family said he had many hobbies and enjoyed using the computer, taking pictures, having cookouts and playing with the latest gadgets.
Bennett always had his uniform pressed and shoes shined. While not in uniform he loved to dress and always had on a new pair of the latest sneakers. He was always smiling and willing to help anyone in need. Bennett was also a no-nonsense man.
He joined the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1979 and served until 1987 where he was honorably discharged. Bennett joined the Philadelphia Police Department in 1989.
While with the Police Department he served in various units including, the Highway Patrol, traffic division and the narcotics division. He received several commendations and awards for merit and bravery including the Fraternal Order of Police Academy Award for Platoon Leadership before retiring in 2010. After retiring from the police department he was employed by Bryn Mawr College, with the public safety department.
Bennett leaves to mourn: companion, Valerie V. Curry; daughter, Aneea M. Bennett; sons, Steven L. Bennett III and Darien S. Bennett; father, Steven L. Bennett Sr.; brothers, Kevin L. Bennett and Darrin M. Boswell; sisters, Dawn L. Bennett and Kimberly L. Bennett; grandmother, Hazel Griffin; aunt, Marie E. Camp; cousin, Dr. Dana-Marie Thomas; and his extended family, Anna Farr and Vance McKelvy as well as a host of nieces, nephews, other family members and friends.
Bennett was preceded in death by his mother.
Services were held Feb. 16 at Bethel Deliverance International Church. Wood Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Wilbert McDonald Chamberlain was known for his gallant ways with the ladies. Although he liked the ladies he never married or had children. He was a loving son, brother, uncle and faithful friend to many. He died November 9. He was 79.
Chamberlain, the son of the late William and Olivia Chamberlain, was born on August 31, 1932 in Philadelphia. He grew up in a loving home with great parents, and sisters and brothers. He was educated in the Philadelphia School District and graduated from Overbrook High School.
He was drafted in the U.S. Army after graduation. Chamberlain was also employed in Philadelphia by a pharmaceutical company for many years before moving to Los Angeles in the early 1960s.
Chamberlain leaves to mourn: three sisters, Margaret Lane, Selina Gross and Barbara Lewis; two brothers-in-law, Claude Gross Sr. and Elzie Lewis, and a host of nephews, nieces and other relatives as well as a special friend, Katherine Williams.
Chamberlain was preceded in death by seven siblings, Clara Mae, William Jr., Delores Jones, Shirley Freeman, Wilt, Yvonne Taylor and Oliver Sr.
A memorial service is pending.
John Wesley Myles was an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He served as a member of the King of Prussia Rotary Club and was a former Lt. Gov. of the Kiwanis Club. Mr. Myles was a Republican Committeeman and was a supporter of the African American Museum in Philadelphia. He died Sept. 15. He was 71.
Myles was a member of the Peace Corps who served in Somalia, Africa. He was a former teacher of mathematics at Gillespie Middle School in Philadelphia and was the first African-American State Farm insurance agent in Pennsylvania.
Myles is survived by: wife, Dr. Geraldine Hinnant Myles; daughter, Julia Anne Myles; siblings, Ruth Pettis, Gilda Myles and Paul Myles; mother, Birdette Myles; godchildren, Jeremy May and Diakeim Lyles; aunts, Lucille Woodford, Dean Morrison and Brooksie Davis.
He was preceded in death by his father, Jesse Myles, and brother, Jesse Myles Jr.
Services will be Sept. 22 at the Grace Baptist Church of Germanton 25 W. Johnson St. The viewing will be at 9:30 a.m. The service will start at 11 a.m.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, 1626 Locust St. Philadelphia, PA 19103.
Kirk & Nice Funeral Home, Inc. handled the arrangements.
Elijah Larry Lang was always witnessing to others about the love, grace and forgiveness of God. He studied the Word day and night. It became his passion. He also became the Book Steward for the Philadelphia Annual Conference, appointed by Bishop Frank Curtis Cummings. He sold Church School materials, Disciplines and Hymn Books. He died September 19. He was 88.
Lang was born on February 20, 1923, to his parents Eliza and Zack, in Palmetto, Fla. They were proud of their beautiful son. He was the youngest child in the family. He had four brothers and five sisters. He also had a loving aunt and uncle whom he loved dearly — Uncle John and Aunt Isabella.
He was introduced to Christ through the Turner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where he professed Christ as his Savior at an early age. He had to clean the church weekly with his older brother Richard. He would rather clean the church than work on the farm. He grew to become a good Bible student and loved to recite poems and study the scriptures.
One summer, he was asked to attend the Sunday School Convention. He recited a poem and Bishop Henry Young Tookes was so impressed that he offered him a scholarship to Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Fla. From there he transferred to Florida A&M University. Life was very difficult having to work dining halls and being a short-order cook, but he was determined to make it. He also attended Alabama State Teachers College, Dartmouth College and the University of Pennsylvania.
When Lang graduated from Florida A&M University, he was working and had to be reminded that he was on the graduation list.
Lang later became head of the Business Department at Central High School in Mobile, Ala. It was there that divine providence allowed him to meet his soulmate, Martha LaDuna. Several years later they were married in Philadelphia by Rev. T.E. Harper, pastor of St. Matthew A.M.E. Church. To this union, two children were born — Ron and Yetta. A niece, Queene Mays, also came to live with the Lang family.
Lang worked two full-time jobs to support his household. Ultimately, he retired from the Youth Study Center for Delinquent Boys and the Board of Education as a business teacher. He loved children and was a father to many at school and church.
Additionally, upon arriving in Philadelphia, Lang joined St. Matthew A.M.E. Church where he was appointed the Sunday School Superintendent, a steward and a class leader. At St. Matthew, he also had a vision to start a training class to teach church school workers how to teach the Bible.
Many of the pastors and Christian Education workers in the Philadelphia Annual Conference had their beginning at Standard Bible Evening School, which later changed to City Wide Interdenominational Christian Training Institute (CWICTI). Lang loved the organization dearly. It has been in existence for 44 years.
Additionally, Lang left St. Matthew to join Mt. Tabor A.M.E. Church, where his wife had become pastor. At Mt. Tabor, he bought the church school van to pick up persons who could not come to church on their own. He also encouraged the downtrodden to join the church and to look to Jesus — the author and finisher of their faith for whatever they needed.
Lang leaves to mourn: wife, Martha; daughters, Carolyn (William) and Yetta (John); sons, Nathaniel (Cheryl), Larrion (Janice) and Lehron; 15 grandchildren, Jacquelyn, Derek, Trelliss, Kamya, Britt, Portia, Lucinda, Scarlet, Ishmeal, Stephanie, Chave, Timothy, Rakiah, Keyana and Raina; 14 great-grandchildren; sister, Lucille Hay; mother-in-law, Elizabeth LaDuna DuBose; special niece, Queene Mays; sisters-in-law, Alice Bradley (Larry) and Shante Reese (Earl); brothers-in-law, Joseph LaDuna (Mattie), Victor LaDuna (Gloria), Percy LaDuna (Shirley) and Michael LaDuna; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends; Godchildren, Solomon, Tyrrea, Jarreau, Ja Ja, Hasan, Kia, Stephanie, Joey, Andre and William; Sharon Campbell and Marie Bell (Les); and good friends, Sammy McNeil, Isaac Anderson, Sr. and Camilla Hollins.
Services will be held Sept. 30, at Mt. Tabor AME Church, 961 North 7th St. The viewing will be at 8 a.m. The service will start at 10.
Savin Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Sylvia Robinson, known by many inside and outside the music world as “The Mother of Hip-Hop,” died early Thursday morning at a hospital in New Jersey. She was 75.
Robinson, the singer, songwriter and record producer who formed the Sugar Hill Gang and along with her husband, Joe, founded Sugar Hill Records in 1979, left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry.
She had a notable career as a rhythm and blues singer long before she discovered the Sugar Hill Gang.
She sang with Mickey Baker as part of the duo Mickey & Sylvia in the 1950s and had several hits, including “Love Is Strange,” which was a No. 1 R&B song in 1956. She also had a solo hit, under the name Sylvia, in spring of 1973 with her own composition “Pillow Talk.”
But Robinson was revered as “the mother of hip-hop” for her decision to record the nascent art form known as rapping, which had developed at clubs and dance parties in New York City in the 1970s.
In 1979, the label All Platinum, which Robinson and her husband had founded, was awash in lawsuits and losing money.
Facing financial ruin, Robinson was inspired when she heard people rapping over the instrumental breaks in disco songs at a party in Harlem. Using her son as a talent scout, she found three young rappers from the New York City area — Big Bank Hank, Wonder Mike and Master Gee — and persuaded them to record improvised raps as the Sugar Hill Gang over a rhythm track adapted from Chic’s “Good Times.”
The record was called “Rapper’s Delight” and reached No. 4 on the R&B charts, proving rap was a viable art form and opening the gates for other hip-hop artists.
Robinson later signed Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, recording their seminal 1982 hit, “The Message,” the groundbreaking rap about ghetto life that became one of the most powerful and controversial songs of its time and presaged the gangsta rap movement of later years.
Robinson had been ill for approximately five months before passing Thursday of congestive heart failure at Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus, family spokesman Greg Walker told Sister 2 Sister magazine.
In addition to her professional accomplishments, Sylvia, who was married to the late Joseph Robinson Sr., was mother to three sons, Joseph Robinson Jr., Leland Robinson and Rhondo Robinson.
— The New York Times and S2S.com contributed to this report.
Daniel Brodie, affectionately known as Poo, may have been small in size, but he had a personality as big as the world. He was a beloved husband, son, father, brother, nephew, uncle and friend. He died of natural causes on December 10. He was 46.
You could count on him entering the room to the cheers of “Big Poppa in the house.” He loved spending time with his family and friends, during holidays, special occasions or for just no reason at all. He was the life of the party, always good for a laugh, and as we all know Poo “raised everybody.”
Brodie was born on June 24, 1965 in Philadelphia to Joan Brodie. He received his early education at St. Gregory Catholic School where he was a top student in his class. He later graduated from Overbrook High School, where during his senior year he participated in a co-op program for Mellon Bank, which led to his 16-year career in the banking industry. His family said he worked hard and diligently, climbing the ladder of success. After leaving Mellon Bank, he worked for several different companies. His last place of employment was at UPS in Logan Township in New Jersey where he was a manager or as he would say, “Running that.”
In 1987, he met Marcy Starks who he pursued aggressively, winning her heart with kind acts. He was a true Don Juan. They married in 1990. They had three children.
Brodie gave his life to the Lord Jesus Christ and joined West Park Church of Deliverance where he served on the usher board. He later joined New Heritage Church of Deliverance under the leadership of Pastor Michael Boyd.
Brodie leaves to mourn: wife, Marcy; three children, Daniel Jr., Roy and Ayana; mother, Joan; sister, Donna (Eric); three brothers, Nolan, Michael and Bruce; sister-in-law, Vanessa (William); eight brothers-in-law, Calvin (Joyce), Clarence Jr., Melvin, Gregory, Thomas, Kenneth, Anthony and David (Elizabeth); two aunts, Joyce (Donald) and Lisa; and a host of nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
Services were held December 16 at Vine Memorial Baptist Church, 5600 West Girard Ave. Wood Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Ronald L. Houston Sr. was a dedicated educator.
Houston died June 13, 2012 at Prince George Hospital in Maryland. He was 69. He was a resident of Philadelphia for 43 years.
Born on June 22, 1942 to Robert and Flora Houston in Princeton, W. Va., he attended Princeton High School, graduated from Bluefield State College in Bluefield W.Va. with a degree in chemistry and was a member of the Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Houston received his master’s in education from Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va.
Houston spent his adult life in the field of education, as a teacher in secondary schools, as a principal and most recently as the director for the school improvement at the Delaware Department of Education. He was also the state director for Title I and held officer positions in several education associations. He played a key role in the enforcement and administration of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 in the Delaware public schools.
Prior to his work at the Delaware Department of Education, Houston was a researcher for 13 years at Research for Better Schools, a college professor, school administrator and teacher. He was instrumental in the development of several reform efforts and is published in the area of education of disadvantaged children.
Outside of his career in education, Houston was an avid Temple University basketball fan and loved spending time with his five grandchildren.
In addition to his parents, Houston was predeceased by two nephews, Dialo Evans and Robert Houston Jr. and his sister, Barbara Houston Chandler.
He is survived by his two sons, Ronald Houston and his wife, Ia , and Shawn G.A. Houston and his wife, Michelle; sister, Delores Houston Anderson and her husband, Carl; two brothers, Robert W.L. Houston and Claude D. Houston; five nieces and nephews, Jill Houston, Sherry Houston, Calvin Benjamin Chandler Jr., Todd Houston and Jamil Evans; and five grandchildren, Ronald III, Cheo, Asha, Nathan and Jade.
Funeral services were held June 21. Burial was in Northwood Cemetery at 1501 Haines St.
Condolences can be sent to Alfonso Cannon Funeral Home, 2315 N. Broad St., Phila., Pa. 19132.
Henry L. Moore was a Tuskegee Airman.
He died Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. He was 91.
He was born April 8, 1921, in Ocilla, Ga. to the late Andrew and Eliza Moore. Moore graduated as valedictorian from Ocilla High School in 1940. Like many young people at that time he decided to go North to try to escape segregation and poverty.
After going to Newark, N.J., to stay with his sister, Moore received a letter from the local draft board. He arrived with a busload of draftees to Fort Dix, N.J., on Sept. 22, 1942.
In June 1943, he graduated with the only class of Black airplane mechanics at Lincoln Airbase in Nebraska, which comprised the 789th Technical Training Squadron. One half of the class went to Tuskegee. He was with the half sent to Selfridge Field, Mich., to comprise the ground crew of the Fifteenth Air Force 332nd Fighter Group, a sizeable part of the Tuskegee Airmen, in Italy. In 1944, Moore became a crew chief and worked on B-25 bombers throughout the Mediterranean Theater, as portrayed in the film “Red Tails.”
He transferred to the famed 99th Fighter Squadron at Ramitelli, Italy. They were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. His awards and medals included seven battle stars as well as European campaign ribbons. Moore was honorably discharged from the 100th Fighter Squadron in October 1945.
Moore was a life member of Tuskegee Airman International. Less than two months ago he was elected parliamentarian for the second time, having served the national board position from 2006 to 2008. He also served as president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter. In 2007, he attended the prestigious ceremony when the Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal.
“Aside from his great accomplishments, he felt that his most important role was as a husband, father, grandfather and mentor to many,” his family said.
Moore attended West Virginia State College (now University) on the G.I. Bill. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics, magna cum laude with minors in both mathematics and education. In 1960, Moore obtained a master’s degree in physics from Temple University.
From 1951 to 1973, Moore had a rewarding career in physics and electronics engineering. He began as a research physicist at the Philadelphia Naval Base. He continued his work at the Diamond Laboratories in Washington, D.C., and the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia. After 26 years of U.S. government service he retired as a supervisory electronic engineer at the U.S. Naval Air Development Center in Johnsville.
Moore joined the School District of Philadelphia as a teacher of science and math at Roosevelt Middle School and went on to teach at Abraham Lincoln High School. After he retired from teaching in 1983, he was busier than ever with various interests. His writings were often published in The Philadelphia Inquirer Letters to the Editor section.
In 1961, Moore joined Summit Presbyterian Church in Mount Airy where he was ordained as an elder. He served on several boards and was the president of both the Deacons and Trustees. He sang in the church choir and also played the trumpet at church on special occasions.
He became a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. at West Virginia State. He served as president of Nu Sigma Philadelphia Chapter and Eastern Regional treasurer. As a lifetime member of Sigma he was elected to the Distinguished Service Chapter in 1991.
It was at West Virginia State that Moore met his wife the first day on campus in the registration line. He married Mary Ion Ewell on Sept. 8, 1951.
In addition to his wife of 61 years, Moore is survived by two daughters, Nadene Moore and Meva Justice; son-in-law, Kenneth Justice; grandsons, Keith and Mark Justice; sister, Dr. Mildred Trice and brother-in-law, Dr. William Trice; sister-in-law, Rhoda Ewell; and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held Sept. 22 at Summit Presbyterian Church, 6757 Greene St. Viewing will be at 9 a.m. Services will follow at 11 a.m.
Emmanuel Johnson Funeral Home handled the arrangements.