Charles, Rayford, Dad, Papaw, Pop, and BEAR - he answered to them all. Charles Rayford Benefield was born July 19, 1930 in Emerson, Arkansas to parents Felix and Nadine Benefield. Rayford had two siblings, Victor Benefield and Bobbie Sue Benefield Talbot, with whom he was very close. They lost their mother sadly as young children and were raised by their Granny (Leona Pride Hudson) and Papaw (Dan Hudson). Rayford attended Emerson High School where he fell in love with his future wife, Ruth Prince. Rayford and Ruth were childhood friends and sweethearts throughout their school years and were married on October 27,1950 at a preacher's home in Magnolia, Arkansas.
Rayford attended what is now Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia where he pursued his love of sports, playing basketball and baseball on a full scholarship. After college, he served in the Air Force for five years during the Korean War, and was stationed at Stewart Air Force Base in Newburgh, NY and Anderson Air Force Base in Guam. It was during his time in the Air Force that he and Ruth had their first two sons, Mike and Chuck. Pop loved sharing his military stories with his friends and family.
After his discharge from the Air Force, they moved to the Dallas area in 1961. They had their third son Greg around the time Rayford was hired as a Dallas Police officer. Highlights of his law enforcement career include working the Love Field security detail for President JFK and First Lady Jackie Kennedy and sealing off Air Force One after the President's assassination. He also worked at The Beatles first concert in Dallas. Rayford retired after a distinguished 30 year career.
Bear was most proud of his time as a baseball coach. During his time in the Air Force while stationed in Guam, he was heavily involved in playing and coaching baseball. Part of his training involved attending a coaching school in Japan which deeply influenced his lifelong love of coaching. After returning from the military, he not only coached little league and select baseball for all three of his sons and several of his grandchildren, but positively impacted the lives of countless young boys around the metroplex area. The Benefield family made many lifelong friends and cherish the memories the sport of baseball brought to their lives.
Rayford and Ruth have lived in the same home in Mesquite since their move to Texas in the early 60s. In the weeks leading to his passing, Rayford professed his faith in God and said he was ready to see his son Mike again soon. We are at peace knowing he is reunited with his son and other loved ones and is no longer suffering or in pain.
Charles is preceded in death by his parents, Felix and Nadine; his brother and sister, Vic and Bobbie Sue; and his oldest son, Mike.
He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Ruth; sons: Chuck and Greg; daughter-in-laws: Cindy and Delana; grandchildren: Brandon, Brian, Jeromy, Chesley, Lesli, Drew, Brooks, Blair, Brice and Bailey; as well as 20 great-grandchildren and many beloved nieces, nephews, and friends.
Charles Rayford Benefield has touched the lives of many people and will be dearly missed. We will always hold the memories of him close to our hearts. Although we are hurting now, we know he is at peace with our Lord and Savior. See you soon, Bear.