Raymond E. Benedetto

June 30, 2023


Raymond E. Benedetto, 95, passed away on June 30, 2023. Raymond is survived by his daughter, Licienne Sodano and her husband, Joseph; his son, David and his wife, Veronica; and his three grandchildren, Nicholas Sodano, Christopher Sodano and Matthew Benedetto.

A resident of Chatham, NJ, he grew up in Paterson and Totowa NJ. After high school, he served in the United States Army for 18 months. He then enrolled at Montclair College in Montclair, NJ.  After graduating with a music education degree, he started performing in various groups, mostly playing dinner clubs. Since performing was tough and he knew working until late at night was not what he wanted in the long run, he put his degree to use and began teaching music in schools. After several years of teaching, he decided he wanted to try the business side of music education and began working with Dorn & Kirschner Music as a school service representative. Again, after several years, he became restless and ventured out on his own. 

In 1957, he started New Jersey Educational Music Company. Beginning the business in his garage, he would visit schools and teachers during the day, and then at night, he would repair the instruments. In a few years, he was able to add some staff and move into a small building on Springfield Avenue in Summit.Soon he wanted to expand the business outside of NJ. He believed if he was going to do business throughout the country the business should reflect that, so he changed the name to National Educational Music Company, NEMC. He always stayed true to school music education and kept his focus on band and orchestra instruments. NEMC continued to grow and relocated twice more, first to 33 Union Place in Summit and then to 1181 Route 22 in Mountainside, NJ. This is where NEMC would operate until 2020. Today NEMC is inPiscataway, NJ. He guided the business for 54 years, building a powerful mail order segment and nationwide band instrumentrental program through affiliated music dealers.

In 2011, he sold the business to Mid Cap Equity Partners, staying on until he retired in 2014. NEMC continues today still enriching people’s lives through music education.

Outside of his business, he had many other passions. First and foremost was his wife, Lucille, and his family. Ray and Lucille had been married for over 65 years; they had a life full of love, commitment and fun. Lucille passed away in 2017.

Ray loved food and was very fortunate that Lucille enjoyedcooking. The two of them would often spend Saturday nights in Manhattan at one of their favorite restaurants. In addition to food, he enjoyed wine, and for several years in the 1970s, he made his own red and white wines. 

He truly enjoyed automobiles. Over the years he had some wonderful cars that he just enjoyed driving. He appreciated their beauty and loved how they worked.

Ray was also an avid gardener. He had a favorite nursery that would set aside the flowers he wanted each year, and then hewould spend his weekends driving around on his Kubota tractor tending to all the plants.

Several years ago, Ray met someone, Cathy Dickinson, and began sharing his life with her. They developed a beautiful relationship and enjoyed each other’s company immensely.

Ray lived a full life. He experienced things on his own terms and always tried to live in the present.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to American Cancer Society

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July 7, 2023

3:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Higgins and Bonner Echo Lake Funeral Home
582 Springfield Ave.
Westfield, NJ 07090

Mass of Christian Burial
July 8, 2023

10:00 AM
St. Theresa's RC Church
541 Washington Ave
Kenilworth, NJ 07033


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