The night sky has a dimmer star, as Edith “EDEE” Stewart Benedict, of Mecklenburg, NY, passed away at Cayuga Medical Center on Friday June 5th, 2020.
Edee was born on July 18th, the first born daughter of Charles A. Stewart and Edith Collins Phillips. Upon graduation from Ithaca High School (now DeWitt Mall) class of 1949, Edee served her country by joining The U.S. Army. During her “Private Benjamin” like days at Boot Camp, in the Motor pool she had a lot of ‘KP’ time, cleaning staircases with a toothbrush, peeling vats of potatoes and driving the trucks wherever they had to go. When she met Sergeant Frank A. Sabo, head of the Service Clubs for entertainment, he discovered her already professional singing and acting talents. Thus started a truly marvelous, lifelong career as a “Singer/Comedienne.” She toured with many orchestras such as Ralph Flanagan, Les and Larry Elgart and more. Always with children of all ages in tow, Edee traveled far and wide in her career. In 1965 her Jazz Trio was booked as the opening act for Richard Pryor on Grand Bahama Island. They were both such big hits, the gig went from 3 weeks to 3 months! Yeah, no school for us kids! When that ended, Richard moved Edee & kids to NYC. There she established her constant bookings at the famed PLAYBOY Club the Living Room, The Apartment and in Queens, NY the Mets (1969) Motel and Lounge. She worked with many up and coming comedians: Rodney Dangerfield, David Frye and more. Besides instilling an appreciation of music of all kinds, Edee taught her children the love of art-painting, sketching, drawing and MOVIES. She would still make bet of “Who sang that song?” or “Who starred in that movie?” She couldn’t watch enough Turner Classic films or a good Antiques Road Show. Because of her background, Edee (and her Mom & Sister, Suzanne) had a vast knowledge of interior decorating, sewing and designing beautiful dresses, etc. Her artistry and appreciation of History always made her ahead of her time. She opened the first Jazz Cafe in Upper Montclair, NJ as well as the first Antiques & Tea Room. Also, before leaving NJ, Les Paul called upon her to sing on a Demo he was recording…back home in Ithaca and Rochester, NY Edee met Ken Benedict. Together they opened the “LeRoy Victorian Train Station Restaurant” and The ‘Benedict House’ B&B. Edee was generous in so many ways, teaching her knowledge of entertainment, sewing, and decorating to anyone who inquired from the very young to the very interested… Also sharing her love of miniatures and doll houses, one of which even looked as filled and crowded as her own home. Back in Ithaca, Edee got back to singing. Johnny Russo and the Guys would always extend an invitation to get up and do a few tunes at Taughannock Park and the local Senior Citizen Homes. At the Common Ground in Danby, Edee, Suzanne, Tracy and Grandmother Edith Phillips did a ‘Family Cabaret Night, twice to standing room only! Many neighbors and friends across America will always remember when that Sparkling, Beautiful, Adorable and Cute Funny Lady lived next door.
Edee was preceded in death by her sweet, first born child Christian Stewart Sabo; step son Robert Benedict; and beautiful younger sister Suzanne Stewart Knight. Edee is survived by her husband of almost 36 years, Kenneth Benedict; her step brother Stephen Phillips; and children Francis A. Sabo, Tracy Mandeville Sabo, Gregory Collins Szabo, Evan Stewart Eisenberg, and Christopher Miles Vulpi; step son Matthew Benedict; grandchildren Merrill, Miles and Maxwell Szabo, Austin Eisenberg, Josef and Käthe Vulpi, Daniel, Jeremy and Levi Benedict; three great grandsons; one great granddaughter; and many dear friends old and new… Edee, Mama we miss you huge already…
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Family will announce a Celebration of Edee’s life hopefully around her Birthday in July.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, those who would like to make a donation in Edee’s memory to her favorite hangout, The Salvation Army.