May 15, 1946 – Nov. 2. 2012

Louis C. Benton, a pioneering African-American member of the Buffalo School Board, died Friday in Sisters Hospital after a brief illness. He was 66.

Mr. Benton was born in Bainbridge, Ga. His family moved to Buffalo in 1956, when he was 10 years old.

He graduated from East High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Morgan State College and a master’s degree in social work from the University at Buffalo. While a student at UB, Mr. Benton earned the A.W. Swanson Award for demonstrating “integrity, respect for the dignity of man and keen sensitivity.” In 1997, he earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Canisius College.

Mr. Benton served in the Army Reserve, retiring as a captain.

In the early 1970s, Mr. Benton was a school social worker in the Buffalo Public Schools. In 1974, by then a youth counselor with the state Division for Youth, he was elected to a three-year term on the Buffalo Board of Education from the Ferry District. During his campaign, Mr. Benton said that schools had to be more open to the involvement of parents, who he said were often “humiliated” by contact with school personnel.

He was re-elected in 1977 but resigned in 1978, saying that a promotion to district supervisor for the state Division for Youth required extensive travel and left too little time to devote to School Board business.

Mr. Benton later returned to work with the school district. He was assistant principal at School 45 and principal of Broadway Village Elementary School 57 and later Hillery Park Academy School 27. He retired in 2006.

Mr. Benton also was a Freemason, member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and an ordained deacon of Calvary Baptist Church.

In 1974, he married Carolyn Coles. In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Louis Coles Benton II; a daughter, Taheera Nicole Coles Benton; and four sisters, Mary Benton, Esther Davis, Ruth Stuckey and Barbara Benton.

A service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Calvary Baptist Church, 1184 Genesee St.