Mom supported neighborhood with courage, love
Dee Benson confronted drug dealers, crack addicts and rabble rousers on the streets of her beloved St. Clair Village.
“When there was lots of violence in the neighborhood, she was one of the persons who lived there who would prevent the violence, walking around, talking to teenagers on the corner, giving them wisdom, speaking to young ladies who may be involved in crack,” said her daughter, Charmaine Benson of Atlanta. “People in the neighborhood looked up to her almost as a mother figure.”
Devola “Dee” Benson, formerly of St. Clair Village in the city's St. Clair neighborhood, died Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, of a brain tumor in UPMC Mercy, Uptown. She was 66.
She was born Jan. 1, 1946, to Addie and Cotrell Samuels. Her father died when she was young, and she was raised by her grandmother. She married the late Foster Benson when she was 16 and lived her last years with her first son, Titus Benson of Mt. Oliver.
“My mom was my whole world. I had her back, and she had my back,” he said.
Mrs. Benson lived in St. Clair Village for decades. As vice president of its citizens council, she helped distribute food to the disadvantaged, pleaded the case of tenants being evicted, passed out Christmas gifts to children and coordinated an after-school program.
Her daughter called her a “fearless” woman.
“The young men and women involved in the illegal activity would always respect her,” Charmaine Benson said. “She was the type who would confront them to their face, not close the door and call the police. She would try to take care of the problem if she could.”
Mrs. Benson fought the Pittsburgh Housing Authority, which closed St. Clair Village in 2010. She and her son then moved to Mt. Oliver.
“When they closed down St. Clair Village, knocked the buildings down, fenced it off, it's like they knocked down her heart. They took a piece of her,” her daughter said.
Her family said Mrs. Benson would do anything for them. Last year, for example, she wanted her grandson, who was 19, to move to Atlanta despite his anxiety about long car rides. As a result, she rode with him the entire way.
“She wasn't in great health then,” Charmaine Benson said. “She pushed her problems to the side to help my nephew.”
In addition to daughter Charmaine and son Titus, Mrs. Benson is survived by sons Dondi Kirby of Monroeville and Darryl Benson of McKeesport; daughter Belinda Benson of Mt. Oliver; two sisters, Lavetta Morris of Homewood and Velva Samuels of Garfield; brother Richard Samuels of Knoxville; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
Friends will be welcomed from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday in Timothy K. Slater Funeral Services, 425 Brownsville Road in Mt. Oliver. A funeral service will follow.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto: Public has stake in Penguins
- Belle Vernon woman visits ship like lander she helped build as WWII welder
- Embezzled $14.8M could cause woes for North Side firm Matthews International
- Pittsburgh Zoo staff caring for African lion suffering from seizure condition
- Gas cost, construction barrels coming down for Labor Day travelers
- Asking price for Penguins franchise said to be at a record $750M
- 11 inmate deaths mar contract talks, says Allegheny County Jail’s former medical care provider, Corizon Health
- American to halt 2 direct routes from Pittsburgh International
- Western Pennsylvania schools’ denial of access to roofers prompts suit
- Sto-Rox High School announces early dismissal because of heat
- Penn Hills man sentenced to 12 ½ to 29 years of prison for voluntary manslaughter