Ruth Sylvester Benjamin

AUBURN – Ruth Sylvester Benjamin, a lifelong resident of Auburn, passed away peacefully at the Androscoggin Hospice House on Dec. 10, 2019. Ruth, the daughter of Lyndon Sylvester and Edith Gould Sylvester, was born in Durham on Sept. 7, 1918. At the time of her death she was 101 years, 3 months and 3 days old.

Ruth was the widow of Col. George Cobb Benjamin, who passed away in 2015.

Ruth led a remarkable life and will be remembered as a wonderful hostess who knew no greater joy than spending time with family and friends reminiscing about her many adventures.

Following graduation from Edward Little High School in 1936, Ruth began working for Lewiston Trust Company as assistant to the Treasurer.

She felt the pull to serve her country as World War II drew nearer and she joined the American Red Cross. Ruth was stationed overseas, spending time on the island of Samar in the South Pacific under the command of the U.S. Navy. This was followed by six years with the Civil Service in Service Club work with the Army Special Services. In Japan, she was located in Kyoto with I Corps and with the 8th Army Headquarters in Yokohama. She had two tours in Korea first in 1946 in the Ascom-Inchon area. During the “Korean Police Action” Ruth returned to Korea to organize recreational units behind the lines under combat conditions for the 8th Army, with headquarters in Seoul. Her tours were highlighted by a visit to Peiping, China and leaving Korea in General MacArthur’s plane, the Bataan , as the communists pushed from the Yalu River. Later, Ruth was name-requested to serve as the Assistant Director of the Service Club Branch of Special Services, Department of Defense in Washington, D.C.

Ruth met and married her beloved husband, Col. George Benjamin while employed as manager for the Peck & Peck Store in Kansas City, Mo. George and Ruth were married on Nov. 27, 1957. The couple was stationed in Erlangen and Goeppingen, Germany, where George became Chief of Staff of the 4th Armored Division and Ruth undertook the very demanding duties of wife of the Chief of Staff.

In addition to her travels and duties as a military wife, Ruth attended Miami Dade College in Florida, Spencerian Business College in Kentucky and International Institute of Interior Design in Washington D.C.

Following retirement from the military, Ruth and George returned to Auburn where they resided on the 115 acre farm on the banks of the Androscoggin River where Ruth had spent her youth. Ruth loved her home and the surrounding fields and forests. She devoted her time to renovating the house and cultivating the flower and vegetable gardens. She created a farm pond which was stocked with trout. The backyard became a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. Ruth was an avid reader, an expert seamstress, and a gourmet cook. Her family members fondly remember elaborate holiday meals and fun filled evenings dining on “Sylvester Molasses Toast.”

She cherished her years at home and was active in many community organizations. She was a member or the Stanton Bird Club, was Chairman of the Ladies Auxiliary and both Ruth and her husband were instrumental in forming the LA Chapter of MOFGA.

One of Ruth’s greatest loves was “the family.” In 1983 she researched and published a genealogy of the Sylvester Family, assisted by family members she was able to trace her heritage from the Mayflower to the present day. She also devoted immeasurable hours establishing the Sylvester Family Cemetery Association, and maintaining the Sylvester Cemetery on Rte. 136 in Durham. It is one of the prettiest cemeteries in Maine.

Ruth remained active for her entire life. She attended the Sylvester Cemetery Annual Meeting in September where she was honored with a plaque thanking her for her devotion. In October the American Red Cross honored her for her Meritorious Service during World War II. She was truly an exceptional woman and “a force to be reckoned with.” She will be missed.

Although Ruth had no children of her own she leaves behind numerous devoted nephews, nieces, cousins, and their spouses ranging in ages from 80 years old to two months residing from Maine to California and many states in between. Ruth is survived by two stepchildren, Peter Benjamin and Ginny Miller, both of California; and a sister-in-law, Arlene Duquette.

The family wishes to thank the devoted caregivers who stayed with Ruth along with Dr. Katarina Latkovich, the nurses and staff of Androscoggin Home Health, Helping Hands and the Hospice House in Auburn.

You are invited to offer your condolences and share fond memories with the family by visiting Ruth’s guestbook at

Visiting hours will be Jan. 4, 2020 at Crosman Funeral Home, Main Street, Lisbon Falls from 2 to 4 p.m. Service and burial will be held in the Spring.

Ruth loved flowers. Anyone wishing to send flowers is encouraged to do so however, for those preferring to make donations in her name the family suggests the

Sylvester Cemetery Assoc.

c/o Lori Knowles

59 Nassau Ave.

Manhasset, NY 11030

or the

Durham Congregational Church

773 Royalsborough Rd.

Durham, ME 04222 

Guest Book