Bennie Santa Cruz Ortega Sr. passed away peacefully on March 14, 2013 at the age of 88 with his loving children and grandchildren by his side. Bennie was born in Tucson, Arizona in 1924, a contractor and builder who worked for over 50 years. He was a craftsman whose many works still stand today. Bennie was best known for his sense of humor and gregarious personality and never failing to incite laughter with anyone he would meet. He was an independent soul who left home during the Great Depression at the age of 14, catching trains to find work and never failing to send money home. In 1940, he joined the Works Progress Administration's work program. His desire to learn and his tireless work ethic caught the attention of builders willing to take young Bennie under their wings. Bennie loved baseball and told stories of lengths he would go to listen to his Brooklyn Dodgers on the radio. In 1947, his eyes came upon a beautiful young woman swing dancing with his best friend and quickly proclaimed "she's mine, Art." He then proceeded to sweep her off her feet that night and Jennie Lopez and Bennie Ortega were married several months later. Bennie and Jennie had five children: Delia Ortega, Bennie Ortega Jr., Olivia Rios, Cynthia Beltran and Mark Ortega. He had 15 grandchildren and 38 greatgrandchildren. He filled his home with laughter and music and was always active in his church. Bennie was preceded in death by his parents, wife and eight brothers and sisters. He lived life on his terms; he was proud of his children and found enjoyment in his grandchildren. Even in the end, Bennie was true to his humorous nature. As he laid on his hospital bed on his final day, his daughter asked him, "Is there anything I can do for you?" To which, he replied with a small smile, "Yes, trade places with me!"
Visitation will be at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Wednesday, March 20, at 9:00 a.m., with Rosary recited at 10:30 a.m., Mass at 11:00 a.m.
Burial will be at Mt. View Cemetery. J. Warren Funeral Services is in charge of arrangements.