Russel E. Benko, died suddenly on September 11, 2021. Russ is preceded in death by his parents Louis S. & Barbara P. Benko, sister Mary Benko & brother-in law Bill Dudley. Russ is survived by his siblings Lou (Karen) Benko, Connie (Jim) Walsh, Valerie Benko, Becky (Mark) Brandon, Barb (John) Hough and Loretta Dudley. Russ had 11 nieces and nephews including Kimberly Walsh-Turner (Jarrod), James "Jay" Walsh, Lori Walsh, Matthew (Kristen) Hough, Greg (Amber) Hough, Cassie (Jim) Hough-Roach, Stephen Benko (Jayme), Nathan Benko, Adam Benko, Sarah (Dustin) Woodward & Michael Brandon, also many great nieces and great nephews. Russ was a great friend, brother and uncle to Tim & Amy Zeffiro and their daughters, Sarah, Hanna, Rebekah & Susanah. He will be greatly missed by all for his wit and personality. Russ was an avid Pittsburgh sports fan for the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates and Pitt. A Memorial Mass will be held Tuesday, September 21, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. in St. Louise de Marillac Church, 320 McMurray Road, Pgh., PA 15241. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the family. www.davidhenneyfuneralhome.com
Russel achieved great success as a lowly sophomore at Central Catholic; his beloved alma mater. This was the 1969 season; extremely uncommon in this era of high school football. Sophomores were relegated to JV status or even “cannon fodder” for varsity practices, holding blocking dummies and the like. He won the full time varsity punter role achieving a 40 yard average. He earned a varsity letter as a sophomore. This was rare in 1969 to say the least! He remained proud of this throughout his life. He earned it from a Central coaching legend, head coach Mr. Jim Wheeler, he never forgot this! In 1971 Russel’s senior year, Central played in the Catholic league championship versus North Catholic. It was played at Three Rivers Stadium, the first high school game ever played there. We always believed the Rooney family (Steeler's) approved this venue for their ala mater North Catholic. North Catholic 1971 was one of the best and most talented high school football teams of the 70’s. Just ask around. They had many D-1 scholarship players that went on to have good college careers. They beat us very badly 33-7 but without Benko’s punting the outcome would have been far worse. Russel had numerous punts of 50 yards or more in this effort! Many people remember this game and how Russel’s ability to kick was notable! He maintained his predominance as one of the best punters in the WPIAL and the Catholic league until his graduation. By Tim Z.
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