“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made of hands, eternal in the heavens.” II Corinthians 5:1. On Saturday, February 6, 2021, Mitzi Diane “Chessie” Benton-Diaz transitioned from her earthly home into our Father’s Heavenly peace. She now sings in God’s heavenly choir!
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Mitzi Diane Benton-Diaz, lovingly known to her family and childhood friends as “Chessie” was the first- born daughter to the late Peter James Benton and the late Merdis Marshall Benton. Mitzi entered this world pre-maturely on March 29, 1955, and instantly became an “infant celebrity” for being the only baby to be born on the Chesapeake and Ohio passenger train as it traveled through Greenup Kentucky. Mitzi’s infant celebrity status gained her the nickname, “Chessie,” and the love and care of nurses in the ICU-NIC unit of the Ashland Kentucky Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, where they cared for her the first four months of her life.
“Chessie” attended school in Norfolk, Va., and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, in 1973 with honors. After graduating high school, Mitzi attended a technical studies program to become a dental hygienist, in Washington D.C. for a year before making the decision to enter Baruch College in NY. Mitzi relocated to New York, (where she resided for 46 years of her life) enrolled in Baruch College, and worked part time while residing with her God parents, the late Rosa and Arnold Peake. In 1985, Mitzi earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Baruch College. After working in the busines industry for several years, Mitzi decided that her true passion was to become an educator, and she enrolled in Queens College where she earned her Master of Science in Education in 1992.
Mitzi loved teaching. She began her career in education as an elementary school teacher for a few years before moving to middle school where she taught non-English speaking students to fluently speak the language. Her most loved experience was teaching at Louis Armstrong Middle School, where she received several certificates of appreciation for coordinating extracurricular activities to enhance student learning. Mitzi remained at Louis Armstrong Middle School until her retirement in 2014.
After moving from Queens into her home in Valley Stream, Long Island, Mitzi became a dedicated member of Greater Allen Cathedral of New York where she sang alto on the Cathedral Mass Choir, the Women’s Choir, and the Cathedral Chorale. Mitzi received several certificates for successfully completing the study of Applied Voice-she loved to sing, and she developed several loving friendships within her church choir family.
Mitzi also loved to travel and has shared and attended several wonderful destinations in and out of the country with family members and friends. Chessie loved traveling with her sisters and planned many sister excursions after they retired like their “big sis!”
Just as Mitzi had a love for traveling the world, she equally loved gardening. She always said working in the soil and watching her gardens grow in her backyard was therapeutic and calming to her spirit. She enjoyed cooking and trying new recipes and sharing them with her family and friends. We all loved her famous rum cake and other dishes she created from the vegetables grown in her garden, such as her eggplant parmesan.
In addition to being preceded in death by her parents, Peter James Benton, Merdis Marshall Benton Childress, and stepfather Albert Childress, Mitzi was also preceded in death by her son, Codi Diaz. She leaves to mourn her passing three sisters, Patricia Benton Johnson, Candiase Benton Driver, and Sonja Renee’ Childress of Norfolk, Va.; niece, Tineaka “Nikki” Johnson and grandniece Kimora Gill, of Chesapeake, Va.; nephews, Anwar Rashaud Johnson of Norfolk, Va., Amir Driver of Va. Beach, Va., and grandnephew, Brenton Amir’ Driver, of Norfolk, Va. Additionally, Mitzi leaves to mourn her passing, maternal aunt, Mrs. Geraldine Hall of Norfolk, Va., a sister in love, Ms. Barbara Jernigan of Santa Ana, Cali., dear friend, Mr. Teddy Rampersant of Queens, NY, and a host of Godchildren, cousins, church family, and friends.