‘A Day of Profound Sadness’: Town Officials Report Passing of Steve Benko


Steve Benko, a lifelong New Canaan resident known to local families through five decades as head of the town Recreation Department, died overnight, officials said Saturday.

Rec Director Steve Benko at the New Canaan Family Fourth 2015 at Waveny. Credit: Michael Dinan

A former chief of New Canaan Fire Co.,#1, he died “after a very courageous, but mercifully short, battle with cancer,” the organization’s president, Rob Mallozzi, said in an email to Fire Company members. “His family was by his side.”

“It is a day of profound sadness to our Fire Department and Company and our entire town,” Mallozzi said. “Please keep the Benko family in your prayers.”

Black bunting has been hung over the door of the New Canaan Fire Department following the passing of Steve Benko. Feb. 12, 2022.

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan issued this statement Saturday: “New Canaan lost one of its most dedicated and long-serving Town employees Friday night when Steve Benko passed away at Stamford Hospital surrounded by his family after a short battle with cancer.

Steve served 50 years as Recreation Director of the Town of New Canaan and was a mentor and friend to generations of youth, Town employees, Fire Co. No. 1 volunteers and community volunteers on multiple Parks and Recreation Commissions, Town Councils, Boards of Selectmen and Finance, Family 4th Committees and many other local institutions. Steve was a friend to all and a son of New Canaan who will be dearly missed by all. Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to Steve’s wife, Sue, and Steve’s family.”

A memorial service—to be live-streamed here—will be held at 11 a.m. on Feb. 24 at the First Presbyterian Church of New Canaan, 178 Oenoke Ridge Road, New Canaan CT 06840. Family and friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 23 at the Hoyt Funeral Home, 199 Main Street, New Canaan, CT 06840.

73 thoughts on “‘A Day of Profound Sadness’: Town Officials Report Passing of Steve Benko

  1. This one hits home. Steve Benko was a New Canaan institution and a friend to all who knew him. I had the pleasure and honor of working with Steve on countless initiatives over the years.

    Among the many connections I have shared with Steve was through the Rotary Club of New Canaan. While Steve was never a Rotarian, he lived the Rotary motto of ‘Service Above Self’ perhaps better than any human being I have personally known. When it came to anything happening in New Canaan, he was omnipresent.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Steve’s wife Sue, their children, and the extended Benko family.

    For all of us, Carpe Diem. Go home and hug your loved ones. Savor each moment. Take time to smell the roses. Tell those you care about that you love them. Take care of yourself, get your annual physical, and listen to your body. For we truly never know.

    In gratitude for having known Steve for so many years,


    • Thanks, Leo. This is a wonderful, genuine, respectful and admiring testimonial to a unique man and a treasured and beloved son of our town.

  2. My heart goes out to the family. Steve was an institution in New Canaan leaving a legacy of serving others. Truly he was the best of the best in New Canaan. Heaven just got brighter …..

  3. So sad. Steve was a legend here in Town and touched so many lives.

    Thank you Leo for an amazing tribute to Steve and a wonderful reminder to all of us on how precious and fleeting life can be.

    God bless Steve’s family and the New Canaan community.

  4. It’s difficult to imagine what life in New Canaan will be without Steve Benko. He probably did more for our town than any other person in the history of New Canaan. He was everywhere, doing everything, and doing it all the time (typically with a smile on his face).

    Perhaps my favorite memory of Steve occurred during the night of one of my son’s varsity soccer games at Dunning. Mid-way through the second half, when New Canaan was winning 1-0, the referee suffered an injury and was unable to continue. Given that he was working solo that night, this was a pretty big problem.

    I was sitting in the press box next to our athletic director, and literally no more than 15 minutes after play stopped, I spotted Steve’s car as he drove into the back parking lot. Wearing his referee uniform and jogging at a brisk pace onto the Dunning field, he took over seamlessly, and the game was able to be concluded (we won). When I first saw Steve I turned to Jay Egan and said simply, “Steve to the rescue”, something he did time and time again in New Canaan. And, no surprise, that night he had already refereed another match, came home, showered, and was about to enjoy a well-deserved beer when the call came!

    My thoughts and prayers for Steve, Sue and the entire Benko family. Godspeed Steve – your kindness, your humbleness, your sagacity, and your unsurpassed work ethic will be dearly missed. You were Mr. New Canaan.

    • Well said Bob.
      I am so shocked and saddened to hear this news this morning.
      Steve was a huge part of the fabric of our town. I always enjoyed our time together especially during the Family Fourth events. He was a role model for anyone wanting that ‘can do’ spirit.
      New Canaan has always been known as “The Next Station to Heaven”. Steve, you’ve reached that final stop. God Bless you and thank you for your friendship.

  5. Steve was a New Canaan institution. Next to his family, he loved serving the Town of New Canaan and its residents.
    I had the pleasure of going to school with Steve and playing various sports along side of him. We were both volunteer fireman and I went to EMT school with him. Again, he loved to serve.
    My deepest condolences go out to Sue and his children and to his brother Dave and sister Elaine.
    Your presence will be sorely missed.
    Rest well my friend, you have earned it.

  6. Very, very sad time in New Canaan. My family and I connected with Steve back in 1998 when we came to New Canaan. Steve worked long hours and dedicated his time to our town and community that he loved so much. A family man whose boundless energy and huge smile touched all of us.

    Simply irreplaceable.

  7. Being in retail and doing community events I could always rely on Steve to help.
    Especially building and maintaining the New Balance fitness ctr in Wavenypsrk
    Thanks Steve NC will miss you

  8. Our hearts are heavy today with the sad news of Steve Benko’s passing.
    Rest In Peace❤️
    Emad and Marianne Aziz

  9. My brother in law Steve definitely served the town of New Canaan with all his heart. I am so proud of him for that. Along with that Steve was an amazing husband and father. The truth is everything he did was for someone else. He took great pride in caring for others. When once he was in a car accident, he cared for the people in the other cars, not worrying about himself.
    He adored his children and wife. I will miss him greatly as his family is my family. We shared so many happy summers together at the lake. Rest In Peace, my brother. Find Butch and go on a cocktail cruise in paradise. I love you and thank you for taking care of my sister.

  10. Steve also was a dedicated fire service leader to Connecticut. He was an instructor for many fire and rescue programs throughout the state. His instruction has touched an unimaginable number of people.
    My condolences to the family. He was a great person and will be missed.

  11. Steve was a good man and a great friend. I could call him at 7:00 in the morning or 9:00 at night and he was always available to lend a helping hand. Steve played an integral role in the construction is all New Canaan’s tremendous athletic facilities. Many days Steve would walk the turf fields early in the morning picking up used water bottles or lost clothing. Steve did so many things nobody ever knew about because of the pride he had in our Town. We are keeping Sue and the kids in our thoughts and prayers. You will be missed my friend…

  12. So sorry to hear about the sudden passing of Steve…prayers ascending for Steve’s family. One of the last of the true New Canaanites! Joann Cerretani 🛐🕊

  13. New Canaan lost a really good man today.
    Steve Benko took such pride in the town and did so much more than most people know.
    He was a friend and trusted colleague who always made sure things were taken care of and made my operation at Mead Park and Waveny Pool run more smoothly. His devotion and work organizing the soccer leagues was just an extra thing he loved to do.
    Where did he find the time!
    He will be missed dearly and leaves big shoes to fill.
    Rest In Peace Steve

  14. Hard to imagine New Canaan athletics without Steve. He always seemed to balance what was right and best for New Canaan with the demands from those who thought they had the answer. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sue and the girls as our hearts are heavy. God be with you good man.

  15. Steve loved, God, Country and Family, then he went and gave his soul to this town. We have all lost a true hero. My condolences to his entire family and New Canaan, we have lost the best!

  16. He was an amazing and supportive friend and neighbor. New Canaan was lucky to have such a dedicated man. Heaven gained an angel.

  17. Such sad news.
    Steve could never be replaced.
    He was everywhere, at anytime, for anyone.
    He leaves an unbelievable legacy in the town of New Canaan.
    Rest In Peace my friend.

  18. I have known Steve since he was a young boy since he was my next door neighbor growing up on Orchard Drive. Even though he was not much younger than I , I used to babysit for him, his brother Dave and his sister Elaine. He was always such a great kid from a great family and I will remember him fondly….for his kindness to all and for his deep love for New Canaan.

  19. I haven’t lived in New Canaan since 1971, but I grew up in New Canaan and attended NCHS. I played varsity basketball at NCHS with Steve’s younger brother, Dave Benko. Steve was 1-2 years older than I was, but I knew him pretty well. He was a wonderful person even then — always positive and enthusiastic, always friendly and supportive toward others. Steve was a guy you wanted on your team. I am sure that Steve Benko will be profoundly missed in New Canaan. RIP.

  20. I remember open gym on Saturday mornings at South School. I must have been in 5th grade, anyway Steve Benko not only supervised but played along with us. He introduced us to a game called matt ball and it’s a game I still use to this day as a PE teacher. My deepest condolences and prayers to his family. A true legend of New Canaan

  21. Such a huge loss to the town of New Canaan…a wonderful human being who will be profoundly missed by all. Sending love and support to his family.

  22. I had the pleasure and honor of working with Steve for 24 years. Steve Benko is a New Canaan Treasure, he represented all that is good about New Canaan. Steve was always available to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. He sure made my job easier and truth be told he was instrumental in the building of the stadium that continues to be a show place for the entire state, it wouldn’t have happened without his support.
    Steve had many great qualities such as an amazing work ethic, pride in his hometown and and desire to provide the best opportunities for the youth of New Canaan. What stands out the most is the fact that Steve never wanted to receive credit for his hard work, he never looked for accolades and always preferred to stay in the background. Those of us that had the good fortune to work with Steve owe him a lot.
    Steve I will miss you and love you my friend. Thanks for all your support.

  23. Sorry to hear of Steve Benko passing away and also of what he died from,which is even more sad…To bad the Fire Station didn’t fly the flag at half mast along with the black bunting…R.I.P.

  24. A tragic loss for New Canaan. He went above and beyond everyday. May sue and his family hold their memories in their hearts. Rest In Peace Steve.

  25. Deepest condolences to Steve’s loved ones and his extended New Canaan family. My family and I have admired Steve’s kindness, dedication and greatly benefited from living in a town with his efforts and energy at the ready.

    • I’m shocked to hear the news of Steve’s passing. Steve was my roommate in college for a year. I’ll always remember Steve for his kindness and interest in you as a person. Whenever I returned to New Canaan for a visit, we’d cross paths and he always took time to ask how I and the family were doing. He was so proud of his brother and sister. We are all better people because we were touched by this special person.
      He will be missed and remembered.

  26. Here’s to the fond memories of Steve Benko and sadness at his passing! He was such a part of all our lives for all those who knew him -especially going back to our days at New Canaan High School – in sports, recreation, always with a hand and smile held out to all.
    Sincere regards, Patrick Sikorski

  27. This is very very sad news, I will truly miss him. Steve gave me the opportunity to have a nice summer job @ Kiwanis Park and Waveny Pool 12 summers ago which I still have today. Believe me, he gave the town of New Canaan 110% everyday, and did the work of 5 men. RIP in Heaven Steve; you were one in a million.

  28. They say no one is irreplaceable, I believe that adage did not apply to Steve. It will take a small army to tackle all of the responsibilities he took on. Lots of love to his family.

  29. Truly a sad day. My thoughts and prayers are with the family. I got to know Steve as a kid coming up through the rec. soccer program. I also got to work for him as a referee for kids games. He was so generous with his time and always there to help. I was sad to hear this new RIP Steve

  30. I loved Steve Benko and all he stood for…..We grew up together on Orchard Drive and spent many hours playing kids games with the entire neighborhood…..A true gentlemen who always had a good word to say about everyone. New Canaan was blessed to have him as it’s Recreation Director who always got things done while being non-combative. One quick story about Steve, I was coaching the University of New Haven freshman basketball team and we were playing the Univ. Of Massachussetts…..I put Steve in to guard Dr. J….suffice it to say things did not go well. My deepest sympathy to the entire Benko family….He will be missed by all who knew him.

    • Gary, didn’t we have so much fun with Steve and the neighborhood kids on Orchard Drive? Putting Steve into guard Dr. J every kid on the street would have chased you all the way to the Latham Estate for that decision! We’ll all certainly miss Steve – what a great and unselfish man with a gentle soul.

  31. Our friend Steve was also a Charter (founding) member of the New Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Yes, there was a time when there was no ambulance. I’m sure Wendy has some remembrances to share.
    As Albe said he was great fire instructor not just for NCFC No.1 but across the state. His devotion to the skills for vehicle rescue got New Canaan one of the early Hurst Tools (jaws-of life) and spread the knowledge far and wide saving many lives as a result.
    A loving husband, father and brother, he was treasure. In his work for the Town in all the many roles and responsibilities he did everything but retire.
    God bless and you and keep you.

  32. Didn’t know him closely but well enough to know he loved what he did for the town.
    He gave an informative talk years back on the history of the Waveny property. Subjects that many folks don’t know about the mansion. The whys & where’s that we’re very interesting to learn.
    He was a good and kind asset to the town.
    Norm Jensen

  33. A tragic, sad loss for the town of New Canaan. Steve was dedicated to his work and took pride in everything he did. He was instrumental in many of the public/private partnerships and was devoted to the betterment of the town. I was personally grateful for his support of the Womens Platform Tennis and Tennis Programs and the five-year renovation of the Mead Park Tennis Facility. He was an amazing man, friend and wonderful person.

    God bless Steve, Sue and his family. Rest in Peace.

  34. There will never be a town employee like Steve, with his dedication to get the job done. Great guy and wonderful family. I don’t know how it gets done, but forget naming a tree or a bench for him. The access road between South Avenue and Lapham Road would have a great ring to it:
    Steve Benko Way !!!
    RIP Steve.

  35. Steve just did it all. In addition to all the work he did for town athletics, he was the guy shoveling snow off the paddle courts in the early mornings. We refereed some games together. He was the best and most supportive partner. How many chairs did he stack and unstack? PA sound systems set-up and broken down? He did the work of 3 people, with a smile. He cared so much for New Canaan, for the people in this town, and for his wonderful wife and family. He will be remembered as a town hero.

  36. I first witnessed Steve’s dedication when I was Chairman of the Fire Commission in the early ’80s and he was the volunteer Fire Chief. For the next 40 years I watched as he contributed to the town in so many ways. I know he inspired by example and he laid the seeds for others to continue in his ways. R.I.P. Steve, your amazing dedication will continue in the hearts of many because of your leadership.
    Bailey Stewart

  37. Steve’s character was carved in granite, his persona was that of a gentle giant, his approach to life was always “what can I do for you.” He was the paradigm of service to our community and reminds me of the cliche: “the good die young.” Thank you, Steve, and bless your family.

  38. Steve will leave great voids in the life of News Canaan. First of all as the most effective leader of the Recreation Department. As I experienced in Planning and Zoning meetings, he spoke for all those who loved sports and playgrounds. Finally and personally I miss Steve as a friend and fellow proud Hungarian.

  39. It does not get better than Steve Benko! Steve was such a wonderful, authentic, giving, dedicated and humble man. Anyone who ever came in contact with him would agree he was one of a kind.
    Deepest condolences to Steve’s Family

  40. So sorry to hear this. I go back with Steve to the youth soccer days of the 1970s, when we were both helping build programs in our respective towns (New Canaan and Westport). As Staples High’s soccer coach, I worked closely with Steve, when he was the FCIAC soccer officials’ assignor. He always had a smile, for me and our team. I join the many people, in New Canaan and beyond, who mourn his passing.

  41. I am so, so sorry – what a good person. He was the Protector of Waveny House. He came with me to the Textile Conservation Center in South Salem, carrying the tapestry that hangs above the Dining Room fireplace. He listened intently as the conservator explained what she planned to do to clean, repair and protect the tapestry. The cost was to be paid with a preservation fund raised by the New Canaan Preservation Alliance. He understood the process and approved it, returned to his office and somewhere found a handwritten note from decades ago, mentioning the fact that the pre-eminent NYC decorator, Albert Herter of Herter Looms, had decorated and furnished the interior of Waveny house. That explained the “HL” signature woven into the tapestry! Steve was a Town Treasure for so many reasons…what a loss we have all suffered!

  42. Steve was truly a special person. As stated in a number of other comments, he always put family, friends, and others in his community first. I loved being with him and around him. Remembering the times i have spent with Steve touches my heart and puts a smile on my face. My thoughts and prayers are with Sue and family. Love , Ted

  43. I was very saddened when I heard of Steve’s passing. Back in the early 70s when Waveny was new (formerly Lapham Estate, the property was donated and the deed had been transferred to the town by the heiress of Texaco founder Lewis Henry Lapham), The Recreation Department built paddle tennis courts next to the former caretakers residence and Steve ran the Rec. Dept. When it snowed, he would have neighborhood boys show up early to shovel the courts. It was a great gig for a middle schooler like me, my brother Chip and the McGarry boys next door. Steve was always appreciative and paid us well. A few years later as a sophomore in high school when I didn’t make the JV Soccer Team, he hired me as a Rec League Soccer Ref for elementary school kids. Then later as a paddle court attendant in Waveny and a tennis court attendant in Mead Park. He was a nice guy and good boss. In the spring of 1979 (my senior year in high school) I was fortunate enough to get a part time job with Eliot Noyes & Associates (a successful and now famous architectural firm in New Canaan) as a gopher (I learned it was aptly named because I’d “go for” this and “go for” that, making blueprints and delivering them to clients). One afternoon, one of the architects was standing by the windows overlooking the wedge formed by Main Street, East Avenue and Forest Street and said, “Hey Ted I think your car’s on fire”. Ha ha, yeah right. Sure enough smoke was billowing from the open passenger’s side window. The Fire Department, a 100 yards up Main Street, was called and within seconds sirens were blaring, the firetruck pulled up and Steve was filling the car with propellant from a fire extinguisher followed by ripping the passenger side of the front seat up to make sure there were no embers. Steve was being swift and thorough to make sure the fire was out. In the process he grabbed the steel seat coils beneath the seat cushion and yelped (and perhaps swore) as he burned his hand on the hot coils. Standing there watching I felt awful, but was very thankful that Steve had been there to put the fire out. That was over 40 years ago and though I had rarely seen Steve since, he went on to create a legacy with his stewardship of the town. While I never was a great English student at New Canaan High School, having had to read Shakespeare a quote comes to mind, “Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”. Sweet Prince indeed!

  44. When I was about five years old, my parents brought me to the Ferguson Library in Stamford to fill out an application for my first passport. At that time, the area for passport processing was located near the Foreign Language books.

    While my father and I processed my application, my mother, who is Hungarian-American, was elated to find a book written by author Benkő István. István is Hungarian for Stephen, the patron saint of Hungary, and is a very popular male name among Hungarians.

    Excited to find this book, my mother called my Hungarian grandmother to translate Steve’s surname. My grandmother laughed when she saw the name and heard how we mispronounced “Benko” as “Bank-O.” We found out that Benkő is actually pronounced “BEN-kur” and translates from Hungarian to “blessed” in English.

    Clearly his Hungarian surname suited him perfectly, as we were truly blessed to have Steve in New Canaan.

  45. A truly sad day for Steve’s family, many friends, and our community. We all have such wonderful memories which highlight Steve’s extraordinary commitment to our town and our beloved Waveny Park. Mine center on his countless ways to protect the beauty of the Lapham Bungalow which became Lapham Community Center. From painting the basement floor the day before the ribbon cutting in 1996 to finding the illusive roof leak to prohibiting red wine to avoid staining the carpet, he treated the building as his own. Let’s honor Steve by modeling our own commitment to our town as he did with such love.

  46. Rest in profound Peace Steve ! What a guy– a man who never wanted to say no to any stretch, any request. All of us appreciated your many, many great deeds and efforts to help others, in your life.
    Farwell Friend !
    David L. Prutting and Family

  47. Steve was one of a kind. Anything that needed to be fixed in the dog park, the paddle or tennis courts, anywhere, he was there in a jiffy. What a guy. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family.

  48. In 1986 a few of us mothers of handicapped children asked Steve to start a recreation activity for them. Steve jumped right in and set up an afternoon each week at South School gym for our kids to be able to play ball. He was outstanding–taking such care and compassion with our Lauren. He was a GEM!!

  49. Rest in peace my Friend. No one did more for New Canaan or worked harder at it. I got to understand his commitment as Chair of Park and Rec. His report each meeting was so vast and all-encompassing because he knew every aspect, because he did every aspect of the Town’s work. He was the first on in the morning, checking the fields to leave a taped message as to their accessibility and the last one at night, closing up after the weekly Waveny Summer Concerts. His volunteerism was exceptional. We served together on the Waveny Park Conservancy and the God’s Acre Christmas Caroling committees and Steve was always coming from or going to another meeting he willingly agreed to attend.

    Steve always did all that he did with a smile on his face and a kind word for everyone. A true gentleman and a fine man.

  50. I first met Steve when I joined the Southern Connecticut Soccer Officials Association where Steve served as Assigning Commissioner (among many other official and unofficial duties). He was an amazing official respected by all, who served that organization as well as many others tirelessly. I’m deeply saddened by his loss. My deepest sympathy to Sue and his family.

  51. I hope people understand what Steve meant to this town. My entire life he has been there seeing to the fields, pools, teams and programs. 7 days a week, often working long hours so the needs of everyone in town were met. Truly selfless. Steve loved New Canaan with all his heart and was one of its greatest ambassadors. The hole he leaves in our hometown cannot be filled.

  52. Steve is irreplaceable. The exemplar for what a New Canaanite has been and should continue to be.

    May God be with him and his family.

  53. This is a note I sent 10 days ago…. Rest easy Chief, we will take it from here…

    Chief, I write this to you with some true sadness and genuine thanks. I started the fire service back in 1982 when I walked into your fire station, a snotty prep- kid from Darien, who had just moved to New Canaan, and asked for an application. I remember feeling like “I knew it all “because I had worked EMS for a few years during high school, boy was I wrong and you showed me why! I remember meeting you for the first time. You scared the hell out of me. You’re bigger than life, square jaw, no nonsense kind of guy. As the years went by, under your watch, I got to do things that I never thought I would be able to. I cut people from car wrecks, went into burning buildings, and for my first time ever learned how scarring a fire fatality really was. (Insert Benko quote here). You trusted me and gave me more responsibility as I moved up the ranks. You would correct me when I screwed up, in a way few would understand. You told me to be safe and take calculated risk at fires. You brought me through the ranks of the fire department always encouraging me to better myself through training and you trusted in me to give me the opportunity to get some hands-on experience at the fires we went to. They didn’t always go smoothly but they always went out. There were times when I wanted to quit, but you always encourage me to look at the other side of the coin. I am forever grateful for knowing you and having you in my life for some 40 plus years. You were an aggressive chief who knew his job. Always encouraging the people you believed in to continue their training and be the best they could be. This is where I gained my experience, this is where I learn to trust myself, this is where I found my purpose. The fire service has changed over the years, but as you are always impressed to us it still takes water and people to put fires out. You are one of the toughest guys I’ve ever known. I have no doubt you did everything possible to kick this thing in the ass, but sometimes God has a bigger plan. Just know, from the bottom of my heart, that you are loved, always respected, and served as a big part of this guys life. I’m now 57 years old and still have that push of excitement every time I get on the truck. You my friend are responsible for all of it. I owe you. Thank you for being my friend, my chief, and most of all a role model that all of us could look up to. John

  54. Waveny Fourth of July Fireworks, Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving morning, Christmas Eve at God’s Acre, the May Fair at St. Mark’s, the Memorial Day Parade, and the list goes on. Maybe it’s too soon to say this but I feel that New Canaan needs one more annual event to celebrate the very best part of our community –
    a commitment to serving others. We could call it Steve Benko Day. And like all of our favorite annual traditions, it could live forever.

  55. Steve was man of service to his community that would be hard to match he seemed to be always present for events large and small to make sure they were success. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  56. A wonderful giving man who was always ready to help. Steve will be hard replace. He seemed to be at all of our town events with his wonderful smile. Condolences to his wife and family. He will be missed.

  57. Steve was on the front line of countless town events, big and small. He was a fixer and took great pride in his work for the town and never asked for credit. He was a great cook and, in true Steve fashion, loved to cook for others. He loved his family and was always proud of their accomplishments. I am going to miss his kindness, generosity, laughter and friendship. Rest in peace, Steve. xo

  58. Oh, I’m so sad to read this and yet glad that he didn’t suffer too long. Steve was such a great person. I think he had only been the rec dept director for a year or so when our class (1979) graduated but we all have fond memories of the events at Waveny, and of course all the Family 4ths. BUT, imagine you have a young couple who decides to get married, at Waveny, at night, by candlelight, in black tie and masques, on Hallowe’en. Steve’s calm style was just what we needed for a perfect and memorable event. Since then, every time I’ve been to Waveny for anything, he has been that warm welcoming familiar face that makes coming home feel like home. I’ll miss that.

  59. I am so sad to learn this. To say Steve is the staple of our town is an understatement. Good weather, bad weather, calm days or emergency days, Steve was always there for all of us. When you saw Steve, you just knew that things would be alright! He quietly provided love and care to all of us. A truly good man and irreplaceable – We will always remember Steve!

  60. I am so very sorry to read about Steve’s passing. He was the kind of person who made living in New Canaan feel special.

  61. “It is not when you give of your possessions but when you give of yourself that you truly give”. Steve, you have touched so many lives in such special ways-your footprint will always be in every part of New Canaan and your radiant smile and twinkling blue eyes will always be in all our hearts!

    The past few weeks I was asked by so many people what I remember growing up with you as my Big Brother and simply replied…he all always be “Mr. New Canaan” to me-he’s someone who never quit-always there to serve or lend a helping hand. I remember those days when the phone would ring off the wall at my Parent’s house and Steve would answer “on my way” running out the door…tennis courts needed swept, fields had to be lined, someone didn’t show to referee or umpire a game or a fire emergency-he’d hustle in to grab his gear and off he went.

    He stood his grounds for what he believed in-dug his heels in…”Fields are closed today”-he didn’t care how many parents/coaches called and yelled “C’mon Benko-open the darn fields…we have practices and games to get in”…Steve’s temper may have flared but he didn’t budge! Those were his fields, his courts and no one was going to trespass when CLOSED!
    There was no “me” in Steve’s mind for he always thought about what he could do for others and his devotion and dedication to the community and the town he grew up in-he had so much pride to make things the best they could be for all he was surrounded by!

    Thank you Big Brother for all your love and guidance over the years-I’ll miss sharing our quick phone calls sharing recipes, garden talk or just some silly story or old time memories. I know you’re already taking on new challenges and responsibilities as Director of Parks and Recreation in the Heavens above!

    Steve…you’re always be in our hearts-a whisper away-these past few weeks you pulled together “Team Benko”…not just our Family but the entire Community and Beyond…Love You Always, Elaine

    • Beautiful, Elaine, just beautiful. This tribute brought tears to my eyes. You were so lucky to have Steve as your Big Brother. And New Canaan was so lucky to have him working tirelessly for our community and his beliefs. He really is Mr. New Canaan. The whole town mourns over the family’s loss and our loss. My deepest sympathy to the family. Kathy

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