Today is April 12, 2024 ()

Benny Greenspan

Benny and Dorothy Greenspan were the adoptive parents of Henry Greenspan. Henry
was the long-time religious leader of Temple Beth-El until his death in 2019.
Benny and Dorothy Greenspan were both born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, around the
corner from each other but never met as children. Benny was born on January 16, 1917, and
Dorothy was born July 2, 1916. They went to different schools and hung around with different
friends. Dorothy did happen to see Benny when he was 14 hanging with his pals outside a
poolroom. She was with her friend Ida Barishman who told her, “Don’t look at them, they’re
bums”.
The couple didn’t see each other again for fourteen years when Benny was home on
leave from the Army Air Corps in late 1944. He had a date with a girl named Caroline who
suggested they take her friend along…Dorothy. Dorothy went with them even though she had
a bad cold with red eyes, runny nose, etc. They went to a popular spot in Boston called the
Bradford and had drinks, dinner, and dancing. Benny took Caroline home first and when he
took Dorothy home, he asked her out for the next time he was on leave from Kessler Airfield in
Biloxi, Mississippi.
When Benny came to pick her up for their date, Dorothy came to the door. Benny asked
if her sister was home. He did not recognize her because her cold was cured, and she had
dolled herself up. They dated and corresponded. She invited him to her brother’s wedding.
Seven days later they were married on April 8, 1945. Dorothy told Ida that she was getting
married and when asked to whom, Dorothy said, “to one of the bums.”
Benny Greenspan served two years during WWII in British West Africa as a mechanic
and aerial gunner. He helped assemble airplanes used in battles in North Africa and for
dropping supplies to troops in Burma.
After the war, they moved back to Boston where Benny owned and operated a taxicab
for the next forty years. Dorothy suffered several miscarriages, so they decided to adopt.
Henry was adopted shortly before his fourth birthday in October of 1956.
Benny and Dorothy would come to Brownsville during the winter to visit their son,
Henry Greenspan, his wife, Gay, and their grandchild, Jerry. They were here for a three-week
vacation in January of 1988 when Fay Jokl, Gay’s mother, died. Benny ended up in the hospital
after the funeral. That was when Henry and Gay convinced them that they needed to move to
Brownsville.
At a CAF air show in Harlingen, Benny pointed to a B-26 Martin Marauder with his cane
and said, “Get me some coveralls; I can get her flying again”.
A family story is as follows: During the month of Elul, Dorothy was visiting her father’s
grave in Boston. Benny took a stroll to the older section of the cemetery and found her
grandfather’s grave. She had told Benny that her middle name came from her grandfather
because he had died three days after she was born. Benny did the math and realized that she
was 6 months older than he was instead of younger as she had told him. When they got home,
he quickly got out of the car and opened her door. She asked why and he said, “I always open
the door for older women!”
Benny died on March 25,1988, and Dorothy died June 12, 1999. They are buried
together in the Hebrew Cemetery. The carvings on their tombstone are unique. The heart on

her side of the headstone is a family custom. The two Hebrew words Taher Lev (clean heart)
inside the heart stand for her maiden name, Reinherz. The triangle with the letters FCB
(Friendship, Charity, and Benevolence) near Benny’s name is a symbol of the Knights of Pythias,
of which he was a member.
Henry and Gay Greenspan’s graves are nearby.