SCHMIDT, BENJAMIN\n\nAge 88 of Elmira, NY, passed away Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Ben was born in Brooklyn, NY, on May 22, 1925, to Charles Schye & Ida (Bernstein) Schmidt. The older of two sons, he was named for his mother's maternal grandfather, Benjamin Rubinstein. Ben attended Public School 50 & 60 in Brooklyn from kindergarten through the 4th grade & P.S. 80 for the 5th & 6th grades. He enjoyed a happy childhood, playing in Prospect park near his home on 11th Avenue. When Ben began taking piano lessons, his talent for music became quickly apparent. He developed into an accomplished pianist & also enjoyed strummimg on his banjo. At age 9 Ben auditioned for MGM by taking a screen & voice test. His idyllic childhood was shattered at age 11 when his father became very ill with spinal meningitis & passed away unexpectedly. As a sensitive young man, Ben was affected by this trauma for the rest of his life. His mother, brother, & he moved to an apartment on Longfellow Avenue in the Bronx, & Ben commuted by subway to school. He attended Herman Ridder Junior High School & James Monroe High School. Upon graduating from high school in June 1943, he enrolled in City College of New York & started studying music education. After the United States entered WWII, Ben enlisted in the army for active duty from July 19, 1943, until December 27, 1945. The first 5 months of basic training were spent taking a radio telegraph course at the School of Radio Communication in New York City. Ben was then transferred to Hawaii, the Philippines, & central Pacific islands, where he applied his training in an assault signal company. His job was a plane observer & radio operator, where he drove a jeep a around the islands & with a pair of binoculars, watched for Japanese enemy planes & soldiers. He reported these sightings by radio to the United States planes, which bombed them. Ben served 20 months overseas & participated in the Guam, Leyte, Luxon, Ryukyus, & Okinawa Campaigns in 1944 & 19455. The last 4 months of his service, he was elevated to the rank of corporal. Ben was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Philippines Liberation Ribbon, & World War II Victory Medal. He returned home a hero but a wounded warrior from his war experiences. For 14 years Ben lived with his niece, Sandy, in Horseheads, NY. from November 1986 to February 2001. While he resided there, he loved to eat! His favorite food was hamburgers & ice cream, & he could devour them like a hungry hired hand. Although Ben did not play the piano any longer, he still possessed a passion for music & enjoyed listening to tunes on the radio, his tape recorder, & CD player. His favorite music was big band leaders & crooners from the late 1930's & 1940's. In addition to music, Ben liked animals & enjoyed petting the family cat., Hopsing & conversing with the neighbor's cat, Daisy. On February 23, 2001, Ben was stomping out his cigarette, he slipped on the icy sidewalk & fractured his hip in four places. Following his fall Ben lived at St. Joseph's Skilled Nursing Facility for nearly 13 years until his demise. In his private room 378 he continuously watched the travel channel on his cable TV & never missed "The Lawrence Welk Show" on Saturday evenings at 7pm. His niece regularly visited & brought snacks to him. For exercise the two walked together through halls on the 3rd floor. When the weather was mild, they ambled partway around the hospital building. Ben was kind & polite to all the vistiors who entered his room & would often ask them about the weather. Throughout his life Ben was a big loveable teddy bear with a sweet disposition. He was always Gentle Ben without a mean bone in his body, who would not hurt a fly. His heart was pure, & his hands were clean. " Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God." Although Ben led a simple life, he had a great impact on those whose lives he touched. He had a tragic destiny but bore his afflictions with long-suffering patience. Whatever pain or trial Ben faced, he never complained. His contented, uncomplaining attitude made him a blessing to his family & la beloved resident to the Skilled Nursing Facility staff. He taught us valuable lessons on the virtues of kindness, patience & contentment. We imagine Ben, "trickling the ivories" on some celestial piano. He is survived by his sister-in-law, Lois Schmidt, of Horseheads, NY; his niece, Sandra Schmidt of Horseheads, NY, & Kathleen (Martin) Schiff of Stone Ridge, NY; great-niece Rachel Schiff, & great nephew, Benjamin Schiff. A GRAVESIDE SERVICE WAS HELD AT TEMPLE B'NAI ISRAEL CEMETERY IN ELMIRA, ON FRIDAY MARCH 14, 2014. Following the ceremony the Chemung County Military Honors Squad conducted a military service with a grateful nation, giving thanks to Ben for the sacrifice he made to his country. The family wishes to thank the 3rd floor staff at St. Joseph's Hospital Skilled Nursing Facility for treating Ben like a member of thier own family & Dr. Michael J. Georgetson, endoscopic surgeon at Guthrie Clinic, for using his talents to extend Ben's life 5 years.