In Memory of ‘Big Ben’ Garcia

Benigno “Big Ben” Garcia Jr.
Benigno “Big Ben” Garcia Jr.

Benigno Garcia Jr. was a true friend to many at New Community. Known affectionately as “Big Ben,” Garcia had worked at NCC’s Family Service Bureau since 2002, where he displayed a deep commitment to the agency’s work of helping individuals overcome life’s biggest hurdles through counseling and therapy.

His coworkers at the Family Service Bureau said they could always count on Garcia to be a genuine friend as well as a hard-working colleague as the Billing Coordinator for FSB.

“Everybody loved Ben,” said Stanley Ross, a substance abuse counselor at FSB and friend. “He was always honest. You didn’t have to guess where Ben was coming from,” he said.

Garcia passed away on March 7, 2015 at the age of 56.

Garcia shared his love of Latin music and food—including his award-winning chicken wings—with office staff, coworker Lourdes Fuentes said.

“Even with the little bit he had, he tried to share with everyone,” Fuentes said.

Executive Director Arti Kakkar said she witnessed Garcia make strides, growing both personally as well as professionally, over the years.

“He really matured a lot. He made a lot of positive changes,” said Kakkar, who started at FSB the same time as Garcia. They were both hired as outreach workers in Essex and Hudson counties for Project Phoenix, which provided crisis counseling in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks under the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “He really overcame a lot in his life,” she said.

Born on May 9, 1958, Garcia grew up in the Bronx and eventually moved to Camden, Jersey City and then to Newark. He was a founding member of the Hispanic Cycles, a Paterson-based motorcycle club.

“He is going to be missed,” said Doreatha Wertz,  NCC Health and Social Services Care Coordinator and Garcia’s loving companion. “He was overall a wonderful man. He loved his family, he was an excellent cook,” she said.

In addition to Wertz, Garcia is survived by his mother, Francisca Garcia; brother, Pedro Perez; sister, Carmen Yolanda Garcia; children, Benny, Melissa and Gabby Garcia; stepdaughters, Tenaj Davenport and Dametria Wertz; ex-wife, Miriam Garcia; and a host of grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Benigno Sr., and sister, Sandra.

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