The oldest of four sisters, Ellie was born October 19, 1931, in Lowell, MA to Joseph and Ellen (Flynn) Duffy. After graduating from Keith Hall in Lowell, she attended Tufts University’s Boston School of Occupational Therapy, graduating in 1954. Upon graduation, she worked as an occupational therapist at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In 1956, she married Chester N. Benoit and they began their married life in Pomfret, CT. There, Eleanor worked for the Connecticut Health Department until she started her family in 1962.
In 1968, the family relocated to Skaneateles, NY, settling into a house that became their home for the next 53 years. In 1976, she returned to work as the director of occupational therapy at Mercy Health and Rehabilitation Center, where she remained until 1996.
While Ellie never forgot her New England roots and she initially struggled with the long, gray Central New York winters, she quickly came to love the Finger Lakes Region and being part of the Skaneateles community. Throughout her 53 years in Skaneateles, she was active in the community and volunteered with Meals on Wheels, FISH and at both Francis House and Vera House in Syracuse.
Her Catholic faith was unshakeable, and she was an active parishioner at St. Mary’s of the Lake, where she was a long-time catechist, morning mass lector and active in both the Campaign Against Hunger and Altar Care Ministries.
She was also a formidable duplicate bridge player, playing in multiple bridge groups, with one group of Skaneateles moms playing the last Wednesday of each month for more than 20 years. When it came to cards, Ellie always played to win, and at the card table her friends will readily tell you that she did not suffer fools easily.
Ellie also loved traveling, with she and her husband taking trips throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, South American and China. Her favorite trips were home exchanges in Provence; trips to Ireland, which was her ancestral home; and an Elder Hostel trip to Quebec, where they studied French for three weeks.
Ellie was predeceased by her parents and her sister Mary Ruth Saulen. She is survived by her husband of nearly 65 years Chester N. Benoit; her sister Joanne Lynch of Hooksett, NH; her sister Martha Duffy of Lowell, MA; her son Jeffrey Benoit and his wife Donna of Dennis, MA; her daughter Lisa Levinson of Delray, FL; her daughter Ellen Donovan and her husband Todd of Skaneateles; and her son Marc Benoit and his partner Jenn Yackel of Marcellus, NY. She is also survived by her eight grandchildren: Matthew Benoit, Philip Benoit, Danielle Levinson, Liam Donovan, John “Jack” Donovan, Aidan Donovan, Caleb Kirk and William Kirk as well as eight nieces and nephews
The Benoit family would like to extend a special thanks to Dee Sweet and Nicole Rex, who provided Chet and Ellie with such extraordinary care, compassion and much needed humor over the past year. We are forever grateful. The family also wants to express their thanks to all those who supported Ellie during her battle with cancer. This support sustained her on so many levels and was also one of the many reasons why she loved this town so much.
The family welcomes friends to attend Ellie’s funeral mass this Saturday, November 6, 2021 at 12 noon at St. Mary’s of the Lake Church in Skaneateles with a private burial to follow.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Ellie’s name to the Hospice of Central New York or Francis House in Syracuse, NY. To send condolences, visit www.robertdgrayfuneralhome.com.