Melvin Ray Benzon, 81, of Fruitland, Idaho, passed away peacefully on June 30, 2020 at St. Alphonsus Hospital following an extended illness.
Ray was born December 30, 1938, in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He was the son of Melvin Arthur and Myrtle Jane Hammer Benzon. Ray attended schools in New Plymouth, Idaho; Fruitland, Idaho and Ontario, Oregon.
Ray received his GED and went into the Air Force from 1955 to 1959 for four years serving in Roswell, New Mexico as a Medic and then returned to his home in Fruitland, Idaho in 1959. Ray often spoke with immense pride about having the opportunity to serve his country.
On September 27, 1960, he married Eleanor Ann Knoedler. They made their home in Nampa, Idaho where they welcomed a daughter Cloena Ann. In 1963, Ray and Eleanor divorced.
On November 24, 1963, Ray married the love of his life, Carolyn Mahala Alexander. To this blessed union they welcomed children Carla Rae and Tony Ray.
Ray and Carolyn enjoyed playing card games and hosting dinners with friends and family. Pinochle was a favorite of Ray’s. He was always so happy when he got the chance to “Shoot the Moon”.
Ray had a fantastic passion for food and cooking. He honed his culinary skills while working at the Nampa Chief restaurant in Nampa, Idaho and later at Nichols Steakhouse in Fruitland, Idaho. Ray had a love of food and pleasing others with his creativity in the kitchen. He was a natural in the kitchen, combining spices and rubs to make food express his passion. He especially loved to prepare everything from the salad bar to the prime rib at Nichols Steakhouse in Fruitland, Idaho. He loved to watch the regulars of the restaurant delight in his new creative offerings. Over the course of time, at Nichols Steakhouse, he built up a loyal following as the chef.
In 1969, Ray worked for Tuttle Lumberyard in Ontario, Oregon. There he learned the lumber trade and in 1976 he transferred his lumber experience to Copeland Lumber in Portland, Oregon. There he excelled as a lead salesman and enjoyed helping customers with his vast knowledge.
Ray enjoyed being an avid sportsman from his earliest boyhood years. His passion for hunting, fishing, camping, and just being out in the woods was always a major part of his life. He felt so much pleasure being with his family in the mountains.
Ray took great joy, to make sure, every one of his children and grandchildren had a bicycle or motorcycle. His smile was contagious as he enjoyed seeing their smiles each time they came riding into camp. He especially took the time and expressed his passion to teach his family the art of fishing, camping, mountain cooking and a true love of the outdoors.
Ray was an extremely accomplished wood worker. He had a wood shop at his home that was well equipped to create amazing things to show his love for his family. One such example, was when he built each of his grandsons their own personal wooden, “rocking horse” and his one and only granddaughter her very own wooden, “rocking baby cradle”. His grandchildren along with many other family members and friends have immensely enjoyed his woodcrafts. He had a passion for wood working and made many beautiful items over the years. His attention to detail combined with the love he had for his craft, made for several amazing creations for his family and friends. Often times, those who stopped by for a visit were sent home with a little something special that he had just crafted in his woodshop.
He was also a self-professed classic western movie buff, especially those of his lifelong favorite actor, John Wayne. He loved to watch his favorites repeatedly no matter how many times he had seen them before.
Ray was loved by family and friends. He will be remembered for his quick wit and strength. He was cherished for his hard work and funny jokes. He’ll be deeply missed.
Ray was preceded in death by his parents Melvin Arthur Benzon, Myrtle Jane Hammer Benzon Novak, step mother Edna Rae Eggleston Benzon, step father Vilem William Novak, sister Colea Ann “Coke” Brennan, and brother Carlos LeRoy Telford.
Ray is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Carolyn Alexander Benzon; sisters Helen Lester of Boise, Idaho; Karen Sloan of Idaho Falls, Idaho; twin brothers Kent (Virginia) Benzon of Atascadero, California and Keith (Kathleen) Benzon of Nipomo, California; children Cloena Ann Wroble and (Tom Norris) of Twin Falls, Idaho; Carla (Scott) Barker of New Plymouth, Idaho; Tony (Linda) Benzon of Laurier, Washington; 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Ray’s family would like to express a sincere thank you to the dedicated and professional staff of St. Alphonsus Hospital and Heart and Home Hospice for all the loving care they provided to Ray.
Graveside services for Ray will be held on Friday, July 10 at Parkview Cemetery in New Plymouth, Idaho at 10:00 am. The family is asking that facemasks be worn.
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