Remembering a champion of Education

On November 3rd, Ben Marino lost his courageous battle to leukemia, leaving behind a legacy of philanthropy, generosity and education advocacy. Ben and his wife Cathy first met WINGS when we were just two years old, back in 1998. Since then, the Marino's have consistently supported our work and the larger education conversation that we've been cultivating. As one year closes and another begins we're looking back with gratitude at the life Ben Marino led, knowing he's wearing a beautiful pair of wings now.

Education, and the opportunities that his education presented him, proved to be one of the many reasons why Ben was a champion for this cause. He was a 1964 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. As a Lieutenant, he joined the Army Airborne Rangers and served in Vietnam near the Cambodian border. For his actions against hostile forces in Vietnam, he was awarded a Bronze Star. He was also awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and Vietnam Service Medal. After Vietnam, he served in the North American Air Defense Command with command responsibilities for nuclear missile batteries during the cold war. He was honorably discharged from the Army as a Captain. After the Army, he earned an MBA from the State University of NY in Albany, and pursued post-graduate studies at New York University.

Over a long period, Ben was active in a number of Charleston community organizations including the College of Charleston Foundation, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the South Carolina Aquarium. His community involvement never went unnoticed. In celebration of his life, George Stevens, President of the Coastal Community Foundation wrote "Hundreds of volunteers at organizations Ben and his wife Cathy supported were there [at his funeral service], as were, of course, family and friends. For one brief moment, at a large church whose steeple is set back from the road, hidden by the surrounded trees, we gathered for a final thank you. It suddenly made visible all of the invisible work of churches, nonprofits, and volunteers in the community."

Ben, we know you have wings and these wings help you watch over Cathy, your kids and your grandchildren. For all that you brought to Charleston, gave to the education movement and shared with WINGS, you soar. In celebration, Mr. Marino, you have WINGS.

“Our children may learn about heroes of the past. Our task is to make ourselves architects of the future.”

— Jomo Mzee Kenyatta

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