Funeral services in La Quinta for Supervisor Benoit

LA QUINTA – Funeral services will be held today for county Supervisor John J. Benoit, a former law enforcement officer and member of the California Legislature who lost his battle with pancreatic late last month.

Benoit, who represented the 4th District – an area that extends from the Coachella Valley to the Arizona state line – died at his home in Bermuda Dunes Dec. 26. He was 64.

The service will begin at 10 a.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in La Quinta. Speakers will include Benoit’s son, Ben and his brother, Paul.

Others listed in the funeral program include 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 is expected to be limited at Tuesday’s service, but the funeral will be streamed live at www.rivcocob.org/bos-video. A live feed will also be shown at Southwest Church in Indian Wells, about 2 miles north of St. Francis.

Should St. Francis fill to capacity, those interested in viewing the service may watch the live feed at Southwest Church. SunLine Transit Agency and Cardiff Limousine & Transportation will also operate shuttle service to and
from St. Francis.

The service is expected to last two hours, with a reception to follow in the courtyard of St. Francis. The shuttles will take members of the public to and from Southwest Church and St. Francis, transporting anyone who wishes to
attend the reception.

Benoit announced 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.

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

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