Read Jean Benjamin Vappie's Obituary & Leave Condolences (2024)

Jean's obituary

Jean Arnette was born December 22, 1951, at Sara Mayo Hospital, New Orleans. Jean’s strong faith in God began with her Baptism and Confirmation at Corpus Christi Catholic Church. She received a Catholic education from the first grade at Corpus Christi Elementary School to high school years at Xavier University Preparatory and Xavier University of Louisiana, receiving a Bachelor of Education in Health and Physical Education. During her senior college year, she pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha with the Epsilon Tau Chapter at Xavier. She was honored with a fellowship to the University of Northern Iowa, where she obtained her Master’s degree in health, Physical Education, and Dance.

Jean began her teaching career with the Orleans Parish School System at Alfred G. Priestley Junior High and concluded her twenty-year career at Francis W. Gregory Junior High School. In addition to her distinguished teaching style, she also coached track and field and sponsored the majorettes.

In 1976, Jean, her sister Velda, and their late mother, Dr. Velma Benjamin, founded The Benjamin’s School of Dance & Gymnastics and The Benjamin’s Adult Fitness Center. They rendered instruction in the art of ballet, tap, jazz, baton twirling, and gymnastics. The twenty-nine annual dance recitals, hosted by the Benjamins and their teaching staff, presented record crowds and a Broadway-style extravaganza complete with the pageantry of a Queen and her court. They prided themselves on students being well-prepared for the stage and for life experiences as they related to the Arts. The students excelled greatly, beyond their expectations. The curriculum at the center focused on developing the “total child.”

Jean married her elementary school sweetheart, retired Lieutenant (NOPD) Russell Mark Vappie, and from this union came one daughter, Beverly Alice. She was named after her late grandfather, Beverly Vappie. Jean often said her greatest gift from GOD was her daughter. She and Russell doted over her and supported every aspect of her life with much love and devotion. Beverly’s graduation from Spelman College in 2016 was the greatest joy for both mom and dad.

Jean was diagnosed with Breast Cancer twice and was victorious on both accounts. She fought hard to complete chemotherapy and radiation both times. She later thought it was necessary to form a foundation that informed and assisted survivors. The Benjamin/Yancy Foundation Incorporated offered screenings, therapy, and educational support to individuals dealing with breast and prostate cancer. The Foundation was founded in loving memory of her mother, Dr. Velma Colbert Benjamin, and dear friend and co-worker, Jacqueline (Jackie) Bridges Yancy. Jean, together with the Fitness Class and their families, were often invited to conduct warm-up exercises for the annual walk-a-thons through the years.

Jean loved decorating her home during all holidays, but her favorite was Mardi Gras. As soon as she and her sister Velda were old enough to stand and wave their hands for the trinkets thrown from the floats, her father brought them to every parade, every season. Jean’s love of the Mardi Gras Indians was uncanny. She always marveled at the colorful costumes and detailed beadwork displayed every year. She also enjoyed hosting the family for Thanksgiving dinners as a yearly tradition.

Jean was a very proud Aunt to Cori, Keyana, and Trey. She attended every Jean Gordon Elementary School violin concert and made sure that she had a ringside front-row seat for Trey’s graduation from LSU.

It is fitting that the Lord would present Jean with her crown in May because of her love and devotion to the Blessed Mother. She has said her weekly rosary and hosted the May crowning for several years.

Jean entered a peaceful rest on Friday, May 24th, 2024, at 12:32 pm. She was preceded in death by her father, Arnold F. Benjamin, Jr.; her mother, Dr. Velma C. Benjamin, Grandfather Arnold F. Benjamin, Sr., Grandmother Alice Miller Benjamin; Aunt Juanita Colbert; Uncle Alvin Benjamin Sr, and Helena Pablo Benjamin. Her legacy will continue through her loving daughter Beverly Alice Vappie and her devoted sister Velda Benjamin Gilyot. Brothers-in-law Merlin Joseph Gilyot, Jr., Jeffrey Paul Vappie, Sr., LeBeau Vappie, and the late Al Tripps. Sisters-in-law: Olivia Vappie Williams and Shari Vappie Tripps. Nieces: Cori Marie Roussell, Keyana Marie Manchester, and Julaine Vappie. Nephews Merlin “Trey” Gilyot, III, Jeffrey Vappie Jr., Jordan Vappie (Danielle), Jared Vappie, and Joshua Vappie. Great Niece ShaKira Marie Manchester-Wallace. Uncles, Gary Benjamin, Sr. (Delores), Wayne J. Benjamin, Sr. and Cousins; Alvin Benjamin, Jr. (Belinda), the late Kirk Benjamin, Faye Gilds, Jill Benjamin, Gary Benjamin, Jr. (Nicole), Troy Benjamin, (Shelita) Karen Benjamin Spooner, Wendy Benjamin White (Larry), Wayne Benjamin, Jr., Kimberly Benjamin Brown (Melvin), Jewel Benjamin, Donna Demourelle Wells and Leslie Demourelle Washington (Edward). Godmother, the late Edith Vigne Demourelle; Godfather, the late Livingston “Rudy” Lewis. And a host of other family members, students, and friends.

Read Jean Benjamin Vappie's Obituary & Leave Condolences (2024)
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