May 5, 1945 – October 2, 2018
Robert “Doc” Benjamin, age 73, passed away the morning of October 2, 2018 at Tidewell Hospice in Sarasota, Florida, following a brief illness. Born May 5, 1945 in Brocton, New York, to Robert and Esther (Weld) Benjamin, Doc spent the earlier part of his life and career in New York.
He attended Union College in Schenectady, New York, where he was elected as president of both his class and his fraternity, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1967. He went on to earn a Juris Doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1970 and a Master of Laws in Taxation from New York University School of Law in 1974.
During a summer visit home from law school, a blind date led him to meet the love of his life. He married Susan Garvin of Ohio in Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1969, and they welcomed their daughter Jessica in 1975.
A loving husband, father, and grandfather, “Papa Doc,” as his granddaughter Katelyn affectionately referred to him, cherished the time spent with his family. Recounting stories of family trips or times together always brought a beaming smile to his face.
An accomplished attorney, Doc practiced law for 15 years in the New York City area. He served as an adjunct professor of law at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law from 1978 to 1983 and as director of the International Tax Institute from 1977 to 1979. He was a member of the Florida Bar and the New York Bar and was admitted to the U.S. Tax Court.
After becoming reacquainted with his college friend and roommate, John “Jack” Cannon, at the time a lawyer with Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen, Doc accepted a position with the law firm and moved his family to Sarasota in 1988.
Doc truly enjoyed his life in Sarasota. He loved living only a few minutes from the office and being free of the hectic days he had grown accustomed to as an attorney in New York City.
Doc spent the remainder of his career with Williams Parker, practicing business and tax law. It gave him a great sense of pride to help his clients and even greater pride to serve the community through his many civic contributions.
His advice to colleagues: “Find something you’re passionate about and spend your time there; you’re better at what you’re doing when you do that.” A follower of his own wisdom, Doc had a long history of involvement with the Sarasota Opera, serving as a board member for many years and later as the organization’s legal counsel. “A labor of love,” he called it. Additionally, Doc helped found the Sarasota chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth and was actively involved as the chapter’s programs coordinator. He also previously served on the board and as counsel for FCCI Insurance Group and as a board member of the Community Health Corporation.
Doc was an avid sports fan. His favorite team to watch was the New York Yankees. He will be fondly remembered for his sense of humor, passion for storytelling, and willingness to help and mentor those around him.
He is survived by his wife Susan, daughter Jessica (David) Dobson, granddaughter Katelyn Dobson, sister Margaret Hoyt, and other extended family members.
As published in Sarasota Herald-Tribune from October 3 to October 5, 2018.