After a stroke in 2004, Benjamin continued to present his works, because, as he told COOL, “It’s continuous to me … I was mostly used to doing stuff physically … Now I have to do it verbally. So I learned how to paint pictures with the words.” Even then, with no intention on stopping, when asked what he planned for the future, he said, “To keep doing constant work.”
Fred Benjamin died on December 14, 2013 of organ failure in Manhattan, New York.
Benjamin’s friends already miss him. Said Wong, “We all thought he would recover … I’m still a bit numb. It’s sad and I’m sad. I shall miss his smile and his laser–sharp wit … his ability to evaluate situations and most certainly his friendliness towards me.”
“He was a remarkable talent—30 years before his time,” said Myers Brown. “He will be missed but always loved. I am greatly saddened.” A note on the Steps on Broadway website reads, “His kind and generous spirit will be sorely missed.”
Tracy Inman, co-director of the Ailey School, said, “All of us at the Ailey School were deeply saddened by the passing of Fred Benjamin, who was a dedicated chairperson and instructor for the Ailey School’s jazz department for many years. By so generously sharing his knowledge, he had a great impact on thousands of aspiring students from every corner of the world. His love, respect and passion for dance made him an inspirational mentor and teacher for generations of dancers.”
Ailey School Co-Director Melanie Person said, “Fred touched the lives of so many students at the Ailey School. He will be missed!”
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Emery, Lynne Fauley. “Concert Dance: 1950Today.” In BLACK DANCE FROM 1619 TO TODAY. Princeton, N.J., 1988, p. 305.
Source Citation: “Fred Benjamin.” ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE AND HISTORY . 5 vols. Macmillan, 1996. Reprinted by permission of Gale Group.