obit Benjaminov, Renee.jpg

March 15, 1924 -

Feb. 10, 2012

Renée Benjaminov, 87, of Terre Haute, beloved wife, mother, sister, grandmother, and friend, died early Friday morning, Feb. 10, 2012, at Union Hospital. Renée taught learning disabled children at the Children’s Learning Center of Hamilton Center and worked as a special education teacher in the Clay County school system.

Renée is survived by a daughter, Deborah Gurman Breiter and her husband Don Breiter of Bloomington; one grandson, Loren Gurman of Portland, Ore.; two granddaughters, Whitney Gurman Roberts and her husband Mike Roberts of Terre Haute; and Rachael Gurman Campbell and her husband Josh Campbell of Indianapolis; and one great-grandson, Ryder James Roberts. Other close surviving relatives include a niece, Tanna Srulovitch of Terre Haute; brother and sister-in-law, Berto and Esther Benjaminov; nephews, Adi and Ofer Benjaminov and their families, all of Israel.

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Benno, who passed away in January of 2006; as well as by her parents; two brothers, Nissim and Yomtov Zemach; brother and sister-in-law, Joseph and Miriam Srulovitch; a daughter, Susan Jane Benjaminov; and a son-in-law, Robert Gurman, of Terre Haute.

Renée was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, on March 15, 1924, to Samuel and Regina Zemach. After first moving to Palestine with her family in 1938, she met her future husband, Benno Benjaminov, also a native of Sofia. Marrying in December, 1948, after the founding of the State of Israel, Renee and Benno soon immigrated to the United States, first living in Kansas, where Renée received a degree in ceramics at the University of Kansas while Benno received his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry.

The Benjaminovs continued studying and teaching at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, the University of Massachusetts, Rockford College and Alliance College.

In 1959 Renée and Benno arrived in Terre Haute, where Benno accepted a professorship at Rose-Hulman. For over 50 years the Benjaminovs were active leaders in the Terre Haute academic and music worlds, as well as at the United Hebrew Congregation. Renée was a long-time member of the Alliance for the Sheldon Swope Art Museum.  After teaching French to young students, Renée returned to school at St. Mary-of-the-Woods to receive a Masters in Special Education.

Renée will be fondly remembered for her generous and loving spirit and her dedication to her children and grandchildren. Open arms to all, a stranger to none, the Benjaminovs frequently hosted foreign students and young people, adding to an extended network of family and friends worldwide. A fabulously innovative cook, Renée preferred experimentation to recipes. A gifted linguist, Renée delighted in recalling her many “native” languages, including Bulgarian, French, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Hebrew and Ladino.

Services will be held at 1:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 13, 2012, at Callahan & Hughes Funeral Home, 605 South 25th Street, with Rabbi Eric Mollo officiating. Visitation will precede the services, starting at 1 p.m., at the funeral home. Burial will be in Highland Lawn Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to United Hebrew Congregation, 540 S. Sixth Street, Terre Haute, IN 47807

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