Susan Irene Benjamin

Susan Benjamin 15 Apr 2021

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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/

Offer Condolence for the family of Susan Irene Benjamin

Condolence Messages

  1. Mary CHARRON Castleberry says:

    Dear Tom, Brian & Julie,
    I grew up in the house behind the Leonard’s. Suzy was one of my first babysitters. Later I remember many game nights outdoors between the 2 families. After we all branched out with our own families it was always sweet reunions when we all got together again. I always considered Susy the big sister I didn’t have.
    Prayers to your family as you go through this difficult time. Her memories will always be in your heart.

  2. The Laydons says:

    All our prayers are being offered for Susy and her entire family. With sincere condolences

  3. Patty Coogan Wyle says:

    I will always remember her smile.
    May she rest in peace.
    Love,
    Patty Coogan Wyle ND ’77

  4. JoAnn Poland Orazi says:

    Tom and Family,
    I was very sad to hear of Susy’s passing. We grew up together in Springfield Estates. I have fond memories of baton contests, girl scout camping trips, the dive team at Springboard and countless hours playing in neighborhood. My heartfelt sympathy to all of your family.

  5. John and Missy Golubieski says:

    With heartfelt condolences

  6. Carolyn Pavone Langley says:

    As a SMA ‘67 Grad, I am so sorry for the loss of our SMA sister.
    Condolences to the entire family.

  7. Pamela Diffley says:

    Tom,Brian,Caroline,Juli,and Chad: Bill and I are so very sorry for your loss.
    Suzy was a fun ,vivacious woman and a good friend to me.
    Sixteen years of book club let me be watch Brian and Julie grow up through the eyes of a very proud and loving mother.
    I will miss having lunch at Clydes with Suzy.
    Pamela

  8. Tony Siebers says:

    Tom and family

    Sorry to hear of your loss.
    Prayers for you and family.

    Tony Siebers
    CBHS 73

  9. Michael Grady ('77) says:

    Tom,

    I am so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your lovely family. May God bless all of you and help you through these difficult times.

  10. Bunny (Carroll) Waugh says:

    Oh my goodness….I am so sorry to hear of Susy’s passing. I am keeping her husband and children as well as the entire Leonard family in my thoughts and prayers. Wishing you peace and strength and wonderful memories to help you through the days ahead.

  11. Carl J Disalvatore says:

    I’ll always remember the Susy of the early 80’s, intelligent, vivacious and perfect fit with her husband Tom. Though I did not keep in touch over the years, I’ve thought of Susy and Tom often and the contributions they made to our country and their community. I will cherish the memories I have of Susy and keep you Tom in my prayers.

  12. Dee Dee Tamer says:

    I was fortunate to know Susy during our years at St. Mary’s Academy and we were on the swim team together. I will always remember her contagious smile and her warm heart. My condolences to the family. Love, Dee Dee Tamer

  13. Ellen Carnahan says:

    Dear Tom and entire family,

    Susy’s smile did say it all. We can all learn from that love. My heartfelt sympathy to all of you on this deep loss. Susy is smiling on all of you.

    With sympathy,
    ellen

  14. David, Connie, Robert, and Carolyn says:

    Tom. ,I Brian, Caroline, Julie, and Chad,
    Please accept my sincerest sympathy. I was so saddened to hear of Suzy’s passing. We were hockey moms at Rockville together. And shared quite a bet together about teens .advice or lack there of. I loved her ease, her laughter, and her spirit.
    The Ross Family

  15. Colleen Mccarthy says:

    Dear Tom & Family, she was a wonderful addition & a bright spot at Farley Hall at Notre Dame. Always positive & upbeat & a lot of fun… my husband, Dan Hill & I offer our sympathy to the entire family.

  16. Judith Knight Young says:

    From another SMA graduate, offering my sincerest condolences to the whole family.

  17. Ray Purdy says:

    Tom, Brian, and Julie, you are in our thoughts and prayers. I will always remember Susy as the one with the biggest smile on the dock. Ray and Emiko Purdy

  18. Christine Fahrenbach ‘77 says:

    Dear Tom, My heart goes out to you, your family and all who loved Suzy. . I remember her well from NotreDame. What an amazing life of great contribution to our nation and your community. God is love and holds you all closely. My best and every blessing to you.
    .

  19. Stark Michael says:

    Tom,

    My condolences to you and your family. What a full life she had with the CIA, as a mother and wife to you.

    Sincerely,

    Michael Stark

  20. Gretchen Schrote says:

    Prayers for the Leonard family having lost a sibling, and their sorrow watching such a gallant woman suffer from a debilitating disease in her final years. Godspeed.

  21. Becky Watts says:

    My sincere condolences to the family. Your sister had such a distinguished career while also being so funny and caring. I am so sorry for your loss.

  22. Darlene says:

    Dear Tom, Bryan, and Julie
    Susy was an inspiration. Her smile was always ear-to-ear, when she spoke about you, no matter what pain her illness may have caused. She loved you fiercely and would prefer to talk about your many accomplishments rather than her own.
    May she rest in God’s loving arms for all eternity
    Darlene Connelly

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