Michael “Mike” Phillip Benard, age 76, passed away on Friday, September 22nd in Seneca, South Carolina. He was born in 1947 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, son of Francis and Vera (Whyte) Benard. He spent his earliest years in McDonald in the house his dad built after returning from WWII.
Mike’s first work experience was stocking shelves at Shop ‘N Save. He completed his undergraduate degree at John Carroll University, while spending summers shoveling under the furnaces at J&L Steel. Mike earned his master’s degree in education from Temple University, and then taught high school in New Jersey for five years. Wanting to be closer to family, he returned to western Pennsylvania to work at PPG Industries. Later he moved to Kodak in Rochester, New York, eventually becoming Corporate Vice President of Public Relations and Government Affairs. He retired in 2006 and spent the last 17 years traveling, spending time with family, and fighting for causes he believed in. He enjoyed being a thorn in the side of those who oppose the 2nd Amendment.
A bookworm since childhood, Mike collected books on the Battle of Anzio to help him trace his father's deployment in that 1944 engagement. He also had a passion for photography. While nature and birds of prey were two perennial favorites, after his retirement he found it was an excellent way to document the family’s travels.
In 1971 he married Christine Zablackas, with whom he shared 52 years of marital bliss. Mike and Christine have three sons and daughters-in-law, Michael and Rebecca of Shaker Heights, Ohio, Steve and Youngjoo Cha of Bloomington, Indiana, and Nick and Carla Firetto of Glendale, Arizona. His five grandchildren named him DadDad and later DadDad Duck, citing his ability to sound like Donald Duck. He shared his love of the outdoors, cowboy movies and reading with his children and grandchildren.
Mike also leaves behind his brother Patrick (Charles C.T. Totin) Benard and sister Lisa (Joel) Rush and family. He was predeceased by his parents and older brother Peter “Chip” Benard.
Mike had a wonderful life and cited his early years in Western Pennsylvania for his foundation of respect, love and hard work. His French and Scottish forebearers settled here as miners, hoping their progeny would have the good, successful lives they have.
Friends and family will be received on Saturday, October 7th, 2023 from 10 am to noon at Thomas-Little Funeral Service, Inc., 314 W. Lincoln Ave., McDonald (724-926-2800). A service will be held following the viewing at Noon in the funeral home. Interment will follow at Robinson Run Cemetery, 504 Sunset Lane, McDonald, PA 15057.