September 4, 1955 to April 15, 2021
Susan Irene Benjamin of Alexandria, VA passed away on 15 April 2021, following a courageous fight against Parkinson’s disease and other conditions. Known to her family and friends as Susy, she was a 33 year cancer survivor and tackled her medical issues with tenacity and determination, beating the odds time and again.
Susy was born in 1955, the third of eight children born to Robert J. Leonard and Therese A. (Scott) Leonard of Springfield, VA. Susy graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in Alexandria, VA, and went on to join the second class of women admitted to the University of Notre Dame, where in 1977 she graduated Magna cum Laude with a degree in Economics. She joined the Central Intelligence Agency as an Economic Analyst, but quickly found her calling in the fast-paced 24/7 CIA Operations Center. In 1980 she was assigned to the White House Situation Room, working rotating 12 hour shifts alerting the President and senior advisers of intelligence developments. She served at the “Sit Room” during part the Carter Administration and the Reagan Administration. After another tour in the CIA Operations Center, Susy was assigned to the Pentagon as a CIA representative supporting the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, again working twelve hour rotating shifts in a 24/7 operation. She later served at CIA Headquarters in a number of managerial roles, both providing intelligence support to America’s military commands, and implementing new technology and processes to support the analyst community. A recipient of numerous commendations for exceptional performance, Susy was awarded the Career Intelligence Medal in 2011 at the conclusion of her thirty-four year career.
Susy met her future husband, Thomas J. Benjamin at Notre Dame, and they were married in April of 1981. Susy and Tom lived for 31 years in Great Falls, VA where they raised their children Brian and Julie, three cats and three dogs. Susy was an active supporter of her children’s sports teams, especially ice hockey, and was an avid fan of the Washington Capitals.
Susy is survived by her husband Tom; her son Brian Benjamin and his wife Caroline Painter of Kansas City, MO; her daughter Julie Benjamin and her husband Chad Tangchittsumran of Arlington, VA; her brother Bob Leonard of Gibsonia, PA; her brother Mark Leonard of Massanutten, VA; her sister Cecilia Jones of Bristol, VA; her brother Pat Leonard of Arlington, VA; her brother Chris Leonard of Thousand Oaks, CA; her brother Steve Leonard of Springfield, VA; her sister Mary Rogers of Annandale, VA; and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and in-laws who gave her much joy.
Due to the pandemic, a celebration will be planned contemporaneous with her inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the CIA Officers Memorial Foundation P.O. Box 405, Herndon, Virginia 20172 https://www.ciamemorialfoundation.org/donate; or the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, 8401 Colesville Road, Suite 200, Silver Spring, MD 20910 https://phassociation.org/donate/