LA QUINTA, Calif. - Funeral services were held Tuesday for county Supervisor John J. Benoit, a former law enforcement officer and member of the California Legislature who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer late last month.
Benoit, who represented the Fourth District -- an area that extends from the Coachella Valley to the Arizona state line -- died at his home in Bermuda Dunes on Dec. 26. He was 64.
The service began at 10 a.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in La Quinta. Speakers included Benoit's son, Ben and his brother, Paul. Others listed in the funeral program included Tom Kirk, executive
director of the Coachella Valley Association of Governments; childhood friend John Plocher; friend Kay Hazen; air quality consultant Buford Crites; and Benoit's chief of staff, Michelle DeArmond.
Seating was expected to be limited at Tuesday's service, but the funeral was streamed live at www.rivcocob.org/bos-video . A live feed was also shown at Southwest Church in Indian Wells, about two miles north of St. Francis.
Those interested in viewing the service were able to watch the live feed at Southwest Church, given the expectation to fill capacity at St. Francis. SunLine Transit Agency and Cardiff Limousine & Transportation operated shuttle service to and from St. Francis.
The service lasted two hours, with a reception held afterward in the courtyard of St. Francis. The shuttles took members of the public to and from Southwest Church and St. Francis, transporting anyone wishing to attend the reception.
Benoit announced on Nov. 18 that he would be scaling back his workload after a CT scan uncovered a growth on his pancreas and spots on his liver and lungs. Less than a week later, he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer.
Prior to entering the political arena, Benoit spent 31 years in law enforcement, first with the Corona Police Department and later the California Highway Patrol, where he advanced to the rank of commander of the CHP's Indio station before his retirement in 2001.
Benoit's first elected position was on the Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education. In 2002, he ran for a state Assembly seat as a Republican and served three terms before being elected in 2008 to the state Senate, where he championed Second Amendment rights, pushed for the federal government to take responsibility for the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants in state prisons and generally advocated less bureaucracy.
In August 2009, then-Supervisor Roy Wilson stepped down for health reasons, and before his death days later, endorsed Benoit as his replacement. In November 2009, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed the senator to serve out the remainder of Wilson's term. Benoit was elected to the Board of Supervisors in his own right the following year.
In lieu of flowers, the Benoit family requested that donations be made to the United Way of the Desert, P.O. Box 13210, Palm Desert, CA 92255.