Mrs. Dolores Benjamin was born in Norfolk, Virginia to
Mamie and Martin Collins. She graduated from Booker T.
Washington High School in Norfolk, then went to Virginia
State College where she majored in music. After spending
three years at Virginia State, her family relocated to Newark,
New Jersey. In New Jersey she attended Dana College and
later matriculated at Seton
Hall University where she
received her B.S. Degree.
After arriving in Newark, Mrs. Benjamin was employed by the National
Association for Retarded Children, the Fuld Neighborhood House in
Newark and Franklin Simon
Department Store in New York. While at Franklin
Simon, she organized and conducted a mixed chorus of store employees. She
was also active in her spare time as a director for several church
choirs in the area.
While working with the mixed
choruses, the desire to organize and direct a male glee club was
always in the back of her mind. Hearing the Virginia State
College Glee Club as a student had a profound effect on her. The
opportunity to organize a glee club came about when she was involved
with a 500 voice chorus in a program at the Mosque Theater in Newark
in 1938. She approached some of the male members of this chorus
about forming a glee club. Their response was most enthusiastic,
and in the Spring of 1939, the North Jersey Philharmonic Glee Club was
Rehearsals began in her apartment,
but as the group
continued to grow, they moved to the Court Street
Y.M.C.A., and then to the Fuld Neighborhood House.
concert performed in 1940 was
enthusiastically received and the group
to an exciting future. However, the future had to
delayed due to the beginning of World War II in 1941.
one glee club members went into the Armed
While in the service, the men kept
in touch with Mrs. Benjamin and often visited her while they were home
on leave. When the war ended in 1945, the group re-organized in
East Orange. In 1946 they began their Spring concert tradition
with a performance at Arts High School. In the ensuing years,
these concerts became productions as Mrs. Benjamin organized and
utilized a boys choir, the Voices of Tomorrow; a female group, the
Harmonettes, and a dance troupe.
Due to health reasons, Mrs.
Benjamin was forced to resign from the Glee Club in 1952. Since
that time she has maintained her strong ties with the Glee Club and
has been a constant source of inspiration and support.
After teaching Special Education for
a number of years in
Newark, Mrs. Benjamin began employment in the
Orange school system 1950. Because of her humanitarian
nature and her feelings for the less fortunate, she spurned
education for a career of teaching the handicapped.
these students for 25 years and retired in 1975.
In 1967 she married Joseph Benjamin,
a renowned jazz
bassist with the Duke Ellington orchestra. He
expired in 1974 as a result of an auto accident.
Benjamin now resides in Scotch Plains enjoying the
fruits of her labor
and the rewards of retirement.
It is with deep sense of affection
and immense pride that we honor our sister, Dolores, for her splendid
reputation, her outstanding contributions to art and culture and her
service to humanity. We continue to sing in dedication to her
for having the foresight to start our choral ensemble, for the way she
has lived her life and for the love we feel for her.