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View a eulogy for Benedict Trezza Marino, USMA '64, who passed away on November 3, 2011.

Benedict Trezza Marino

West Point, 1964

Be Thou At Peace

Posted by John Chalsty (Ben's Business Partner) on November 15, 2011:

Ben Marino Eulogy

I am here today to talk about Ben Marino. During the nearly 30 years that I had known Ben, it has never occurred to me that this day would actually arrive. I had always taken it as a given that Ben would outlive me -- and at some stage, he might be standing here talking about me. But, it hasn't happened that way. In the last few weeks, I have found my world turned upside down. I have worked to keep my balance while realizing that Ben, on whom I have so often relied and leaned, will no longer be there for me.

But slowly, my balance has returned. And I have realized that I was just being selfish. We are here not to think of what Ben has meant to me and to you, but rather to celebrate the life of Ben himself. He has simply been the most remarkable person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing -- brave, determined, tough, loyal, passionate, and loving. And always the person to whom one could turn in times of personal doubt or pain.

You all knew Ben -- some of you well, others more fleetingly -- but I doubt whether any one of you will have memories of Ben that are not profoundly positive. My own time with Ben began almost 30 years ago when he first joined DLJ to head our new Municipal Finance department. He had come to us after a stellar career at Lehman Brothers and very quickly he and his partner, Joe Harcum, built a successful department at DLJ. I am biased of course, but I believe that DLJ was a very special place in the galaxy of Wall Street. Being relatively young, we were distinguished by our commitment to our customers and their well being. No one typified this more than Ben. Although he was always a very successful investment banker, he was driven mostly by a desire to serve his clients' interests. It so happened that much of his business was in South Carolina and the Charleston area and there is no doubt but that he achieved a towering reputation here. We used to say, "Ben owns Charleston." And in many ways that was true -- he earned the loyalty and friendship of all of his clients here. And that was because Ben showed them his loyalty and friendship. In the years working in Charleston, Ben and Cathy came to love this wonderful city. So, when he retired, there was no surprise that they came to build their dream house in Kiawah. You all know how proud Ben was of that house and all of its belongings.

Jill and I came to Charleston and Kiawah because of Ben and Cathy. I will always remember our first day here when we landed at Charleston Airport. Ben and Cathy of course were there to meet us. During the whole trip down, Jill had been nervous at the idea of meeting the Marinos. And I'll never forget the joy and relief on her face when Ben approached her with his arms held wide and a smile on his face. If ever there was any question that Jill would share my love for Ben and Cathy, that moment made it certain.

I have said that Ben was loyal -- and indeed he was to all of the people and institutions that he encountered -- his family and friends, West Point and his service posts, Ridgewood, and finally Charleston. Wherever he went, Ben became a part of the community by contributing so much of himself. Here in Charleston, there was so much that benefitted from Ben -- the College of Charleston, MUSC, the Aquarium, the Law School, the Symphony, Spoleto, and many, many others. All of these people and institutions can vouch for the value and the loyalty that they enjoyed from Ben. As newcomers to Charleston, Ben introduced us to his friends and to those very institutions. Both have brought us great joy and pride.

Ben was in the very best sense of the word, a patron of the arts. His and Cathy's collection of the works of local artists was much admired. He was an early collector of Mary Whyte; Mary's painting of Cathy was one of his special favorites. He truly loved Mary Jackson and bought many of her remarkable baskets. Ben and Cathy's house at Kiawah is full of these works and reflects Ben's great passion for beauty. Passion identified Ben -- his passion for art, music, food, life in the Low Country, his friends, and above all, his family.

Ben and Cathy were a remarkable couple -- loving, kind to others, passionately loyal to one another. As a couple, they had been Jill's and my bellwether. We have benefited enormously from their friendship. They were always the last couple we saw before we left Charleston on a trip and the first we contacted when we came back. Being with them was like being refreshed over and over again. Our own love for one another was strengthened by the example of Ben and Cathy, and our love for them.

Ben was always very proud that his Italian background rubbed off on Cathy, the quintessential Irish lass. And Cathy accepted that with her usual whimsical smile, which she had learnt in their 46 years of marriage to Ben. Ben was always proud that Cathy had learnt Italian cooking "The way my mother used to do it." And, he particularly enjoyed eating and showing off her spaghetti, spaghetti sauce!, and meatballs. You gave him so much support and love in your marriage, Cathy, and we know just how much he loved and valued you.

Despite his good natured and calm demeanor, Ben could be tough when he felt his position was just. He and I have spent many an hour negotiating on behalf of our Carolina Park project and the Children's Center. He has believed that his position was inherently just and he has been prepared to defend it fiercely.

As you know, Ben was the moving force in establishing the Children's Center and he got great joy out of its success and the fact that his two sons, Chris and Stephen, had worked there. The Children's Center will be a memorial to Ben.

Ben served his nation bravely in Vietnam. He was stationed near the Cambodian border and was awarded the Bronze Star as well as the Meritorious Service Medal and Vietnam Service Medal. Ben was reluctant to talk about those years in Vietnam. It was only recently that he visited the country again at the urging of his brother-in-law, Jim Fallon, and was happy to find it so different from the country he recalled during the war. Most telling about Ben is a story of how he came to join the Army Airborne Rangers after graduating from West Point. You see, Ben had a fear of heights and he felt that jumping out of an airplane was the way to cure himself!

Ben's brother, John, has many loving recollections of Ben's kindness to others. He tells a story of Ben while he was at graduate school in Albany. One winter day, when the temperature was 35 below, Ben arrived home and Cathy was amazed to find him with an old lady wrapped in blankets. Ben had stopped at the little ramshackle one-pump gas station where he usually filled up and he found the operator, this same older lady, inside, wrapped in blankets because her heat had failed. He bundled her up and took her home with him where Cathy supervised her thawing out and Ben called a plumber immediately to make sure her home was heated. He did this sort of thing instinctively, without thinking much about it, because of his innate care for others.

An important part of Ben was his attention to detail -- he knew if you were sad, he knew if you were in need, he knew if the pictures on your walls hung askew and needed straightening! (Which he then did!) All of you who have had dinner at their home -- if lucky, Cathy's incredible pasta -- will remember Ben hovering around the pots under the pretense of helping Cathy, but actually just to make sure that it was perfectly cooked! And Cathy -- saint as she is -- would accept his help with perfect good humor.

But I think my favorite Ben "attention to detail" story concerns the time when in Ridgewood, dressed in a suit with briefcase, prepared to go to work, Ben noticed a lone leaf floating in his and Cathy's swimming pool. You know how it would have troubled him to leave that leaf, so he reached over to take it out of the pool and he promptly fell in! Cathy was watching from the kitchen window, barely able to contain her laughter. As he stalked in, Ben's first words were, "Don't say a thing!" And of course, Ben himself has had many a laugh at his predicament!

Finally, let me tell two recent stories about Ben that describe in his own words who he was much better than I can. In one of his last moments, he was talking to his son Chris and noticed that Chris was crying. Ben said to Chris, "Don't cry. I've been blessed -- I was raised in a loving home, had a good education, survived combat duty in Vietnam, had a rewarding and successful career, had nice things, travelled the world, had the best friends a man could ask for, raised my children to be men I am proud of, and was given the gift of my six grandchildren whom I love and from whom I have received so much joy. I am most grateful to have been happily married to the love of my life for 46 years! Your Mom was always the best part of me." Ben said, he had lived the life of his dreams and was ready for whatever God planned for him. He said there was plenty of work to do up there and he was ready for the challenge! Then, he added a little ruefully, "Of course, I wouldn't mind having another ten years down here."

To sum up perfectly Ben's courage in the face of his imminent passing, and the humor with which he addressed it -- Monseigneur Roland, knowing of Ben's condition, had come by to bless him and administer his last rites. When the Monseigneur had finished, Ben looked at him with what I imagine was a twinkle in his eye and said, "What happens if I am stubborn and stay alive longer than expected? How long does this blessing last?"

We are all blessed to have known Ben and that particular blessing will last forever through Cathy, Mike, Chris, Stephen, Ann, Lisa, his precious grandchildren Mitchell, Kate, Julia, William, Charlie, and Maddie. His brother, John, sisters Fran and Vera, their families, and Cathy's family, and all of us here today as members of Ben's extended family. We have all been privileged to know and love this remarkable man.

We will all remember you, Ben Marino, and miss you greatly.

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