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Benjamin Golden Garland (affectionately known as Dad to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and Papa G to All) entered eternal rest on October 11, 2023 at home. His wish was granted when he celebrated his 85th birthday surrounded by his loving family just 2 days prior.
Benjamin was born October 9, 1938 to Grace E. Garland and William B. Garland, Sr. in Jamaica Queens, New York. He was the youngest of 4 children.
His early school years were spent in New York City Schools, attending PS 40, PS 48, and Samuel Huntington Junior High School. He moved to Albany, NY where he lived with his Uncle James Clifford Garland (founder and original owner-operator of Garland Brothers). He graduated from Albany High School while working for his uncle. He then went on to graduate from the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service in New York City in 1965 and began working at the funeral home.
In 1969, he became the Owner-Operator of the Albany Branch of Garland Brothers Funeral Homes, the oldest minority, family owned and operated business in the Northeastern Region. Benjamin selflessly provided love, support, and spent a lifetime of giving to others to improving the quality of life for the African American community, as well as the entire City of Albany.
Benjamin fostered several children, including a Haitian student who was facing deportation. As a result of his intervention, the student was able to remain in the United States and successfully continue her education and is now a practicing physician’s assistant.
Benjamin volunteered for numerous civic and charitable community-based initiatives for the betterment of the African American experience in the Capital District Area. He helped Reverend Surgick, Reverend Roland, and Reverend Bailey secure scholarships for inner city youth to attend Camp Thatcher. He also canvassed for the opening of Green Tech High Charter School for Boys where he actively invested in the success of the basketball team. In 2014, he was given honorary membership of the Green Tech Basketball Team and received a championship varsity jacket that he loved dearly.
. He has been involved in numerous civic and cultural organizations in the Capital Area including the following: Former Board Member of the Urban League of Albany, New York, Former Board Member of the N.A.A.C.P., Former Board Member of the Arbor Hill Community Development Corp., Alternate Delegate for President Jimmy Carter’s Campaign of Albany County, and the First African American to run for the Albany School District Board endorsed by the Albany Democratic Committee. Mr. Garland was a member of the Metropolitan NTM Baptist Church of Albany, NY where he loved to meet and greet the parishioners. He loved to hand out his Papa G fans, pens, and hand sanitizers to all.
He received many accolades for his lifetime of service, as well as the following Awards: Black Family Community Award from Albany Links, Dr. Martin Luther King Annual Basketball Tournament- Hall of Fame Life Time Achievement Awards 2010, City of Albany Dept. of Recreation- Wall of Fame 2013, The Minority Business Councils Albany-Colonie Regional Chambers of Commerce- Minority Entrepreneur of The Year 1992, Albany School of Humanities- Black History Month Celebration 1999, City of Albany Hon. Thomas Whalen - Oldest African American Business 1991, Green Tech High- Commitment to the school 2014, NAACP Albany Branch- Meritorious Service Award 2000, NYS Association I.B.P.O. Elks of the World- Stanley J. Thomas Sr. Achievement Awards 2009, and Commando Lodge # 1105 I.B.P.O.E of the World- In recognition of 40 Years of Service.
Benjamin was a member of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, Greater New York Funeral Directors Association, Empire State Funeral Directors Association, and Capital City Lodge #78 of Prince Hall Masons. He was also a member of and served as a Past Exalted Ruler of Commando Lodge 1105 I.P.B.O.E. of World.
Benjamin is preceded in death by his wife, Jeanette Dowdell-Garland, daughters, LaSone D. Garland-Bryan and Benita E. Garland, grandson, Gregory Allen Garland, Jr, son-in-law, Kenneth P. Wilcox, brothers-in-laws , Dennie L. Simon , Kenneth DeWitt and his parents Grace E. Garland and William B. Garland, Sr.
He leaves to cherish his memory, his children, Rodney J. Garland (Sheila) Gregory A. Garland, Sr. (Inez), Lillian E. Garland, Phillippa P. Garland-Wilcox, and James C. Garland II, 1 son-in-law, Bernard H. Bryan, Sr. 20 grandchildren; Franziska Garland, Bernard H. Bryan, Jr., Justin McGill, Benjamin G. Garland II, (Odaysia), Jennifer Garland, William Madera Garland, Jeanette Garland-Hickman (Virkwan), Kymir Walker, Rodesha Garland, Keisha Garland, Alyssa Garland, Rodney Jr. & Ronald Garland, Kiante Garland, Phiana Wilcox, Devonte Garland, Rakeem Garland, Zachary Garland, Gage Garland, James Dindali Garland, 25 great grandchildren, and 3 godchildren, Marcolena and Michelle Miller and Jeffrey McDowell, Jr. He is survived by 2 sisters, Mollie Simon (Dr. Dennie) of Greenwich, CT and Lillian G. Tillman-DeWitt (Kenneth) of Loudonville, NY, 4 sisters-in-law, Rosemary Bush, Claudette Sims, Carol Demeke, and Leila Dowdell, and 1 brother-in-law, Ronald Dowdell. He also leaves to cherish lifelong friends Mr. Earl Thorpe and Louis Willis. 5 nieces, 4 nephews, 12 grandnieces, 5 grandnephews, 8 great-grandnephews, 2 great-grandnieces.