Funeral services announced for late County Supervisor John Benoit

LA QUINTA  – Funeral services will be held Jan. 10 in La Quinta for county Supervisor John J. Benoit, who battled pancreatic cancer, his office announced Wednesday.

The night before the 10 a.m. funeral Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, a public viewing is planned, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Benoit represented the Fourth District – an area that extends from the Coachella Valley to the Arizona state line. He “passed away peacefully” Monday night at his home in Bermuda Dunes, according to a statement issued by his office. He was 64.

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.

Before 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.

He is survived by his wife Sheryl, whom he married in 1978, two children, Sarah and Ben, two grandchildren and two brothers.

In lieu of flowers, the Benoit family is requesting that donations be made to the United Way of the Desert, P.O. Box 13210, Palm Desert, CA 92255.

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