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Benjamin L Bynum Sr.

April 6, 1923 October 19, 2021
Benjamin L Bynum Sr.
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Obituary for Benjamin L Bynum Sr.

A Celebration of Benjamin's life will occur on
Monday, November 1, 2021.

Deliverance Evangelistic Church
2001 West Lehigh Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19132

9 AM Viewing
11 AM Service

The Obituary

Benjamin Louie Bynum Sr. was born on April 6, 1923, in Lexington, South Carolina, the ninth of ten children born to Willie Robert Bynum and Bertha G. Summers Bynum. When Ben was five years old, the family moved to Orangeburg, South Carolina, and when he was twelve years old, they migrated to Philadelphia, joining legions of African American families in search of greater educational and economic opportunities in the North. The family settled in North Philadelphia and once lived on Opal Street, which Ben described as “the smallest street in North Philly.” He was amused when he learned that the street is now a driveway. Despite its challenges, North Philadelphia was nonetheless a tight-knit community that provided Ben with a lifetime of rewarding experiences and rich memories.

Ben attended Bache Elementary School, Vaux Junior High School, and was in the first graduating class at Ben Franklin High School, where he also played football. Following high school graduation, Ben began working at the Sun Shipyard Company in Chester, PA as a machinist. His work at the shipyard was interrupted when he was drafted during World War II. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune in Montford Point, North Carolina and was a member of the esteemed Montford Point Marines, the first African Americans to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Following an honorable discharge from the Marines Corps, Ben returned to Philadelphia and shifted his focus to business ownership. Strength, determination, business savvy and a commitment to his community drove Ben to build one of Philadelphia’s thriving Black business empires who roots sprouted during the difficult Civil Rights era. After working with his older brother Henry, he went out on his own and opened several small bars Betty’s Bar was first, followed by Big Moose’s, a nickname he earned on the football field. In 1965, Ben opened the Cadillac club in North Philadelphia, which became known for booking the who’s who of show business, including Count Basie, B.B. King, Gladys Knight, George Benson, Fats Domino, Redd Foxx, Aretha Franklin, Kenny Gamble, Woody Herman, Billy Paul, Nina Simone and the Stylistics. Billy Paul’s first album was “Feeling Good at The Cadillac Club,” a tribute to the entertainment institution for Black Philadelphians that Ben built. Seeing the rise of disco, Ben closed the Cadillac Club in 1976 and opened the Impulse Discotheque on the site. The Impulse became one of the city’s most popular dance venues. The foundation Ben laid continues to bear fruit through his son’s groundbreaking restaurants.

Ben said he would never retire, and well into his 90s would often be found working the door at his son’ restaurants. On a nice day, you would find him walking for blocks in downtown Philly making regular stops at the local Starbucks for soy mocha or enjoying a cup of coffee at the Good Karma Café in the Wilma Theater.

Ben mingled as easily with entertainment legends as with patrons and neighbors. Everyone knew him. And they loved him. Not so much for his remarkable business acumen or achievements, but because he treated everyone regardless of station in life with the kind of respect and kindness that you never forget.

Ben’s children were his pride and joy. He reveled in their accomplishments, and particularly enjoyed watching them raise families of their own. Life as a grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather brought even more to his life.

A hometown sports fan through and through, Ben also loved reading and traveling. He was active and vital until only recently, having enjoyed a late-summer trip to Ocean City, Maryland with his longtime partner Thelma Peake, before taking ill.

Ben was blessed with a long life. Longevity runs in the Bynum genes. Ben’s brother James is 100 and his mother and three of his sisters, Willie Rae, Laura, and Zellen, also were centenarians. But more importantly, Ben lived a meaningful life. A soft-spoken man of quiet faith, Ben knew that even a few words could cheer a heavy heart, encourage dreams, or change a life.

Ben leaves to cherish and carry on this rich legacy: his children, Antoinette Bynum Simpkins, Benita Bynum Jones, Robert Bynum, Benjamin Bynum, Jr., and Denee Bynum; son-in-law, William Sr.; daughters-in-laws, Debra, Kimberly, and Danielle; grandchildren, David, Randi, William Jr., Brandon, Bradford, Saiyonna, Ishmael, Bashir, and Isabella; great-grandchildren, Taj, Reji, Carmindy, Stella, Judah, Julius, and Sadie; great-great-granddaughter, Noah; his rock, best friend, and partner for over twenty years, Thelma Peake; brother James Bynum; and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

The Bynum family is grateful for the outpouring of love. We were comfortbed by the many expressions of sympathy and kindness.



Acknowledgements

It is with great sadness that the Bynum Family announces the passing of the family patriarch,
Benjamin L. Bynum, Sr.


Mr Bynum, Sr. who was 98 years old, was the example and guide for his sons, and they followed closely in his business footsteps.

As a young man in his twenties Ben Sr. became a member of the Montford Point Marines, the first African-Americans to serve in the United States Marines.

He began his trailblazing entrepreneurial career with numerous bars and cafés in the North Philadelphia and Germantown sections of the city. In 1965 Ben Sr opened the Cadillac Club on Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia. The Cadillac Club became known for booking famous artists like Nina Simone, B.B. King, Redd Foxx, Kenny Gamble, Woody Herman, Count Basie, Gladys Knight, Fats Domino, George Benson, Billy Paul, The Stylistics and none other than the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin. Billy Paul’s debut album was named “Feelin’ Good at The Cadillac Club”, and payed homage to the club that featured him and played a pivotal role in his career.

Mr Bynum Sr always had his finger on the pulse of the changing times and his clientele’s tastes. In 1977, the Cadillac Club became The Impulse Discotheque. His sons Robert and Benjamin Jr, worked for him through high school and college. When the club closed, Ben Sr worked for his sons at their blues club and southern restaurant, Warmdaddy’s. Ben Sr was known for booking the best blues acts in the tri-state area, bringing a caliber of entertainment to the City that hadn’t been seen in years. He worked the door at the club every Friday and Saturday night, even after Warmdaddy’s moved to its second home on Delaware Avenue & Reed Streets.

He kept up this schedule well into his 90s, and said he would never fully retire. Ben Sr loved music and good food and he passed this on to his children. He is survived by his older brother James, his daughters Antoinette, Benita and Denee, his sons Benjamin Jr and Robert, his partner Thelma, as well as 9 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers.

- The Bynum Family

We request family and friends who prefer
to send plants or flowers,
to coordinate with one of the
following reliable local florists:..

June's Floral Design: (267) 376-7621
Overhill Flowers: (215 ) 473-1842
Simply Floral: ( 610) 622-7980

Have the florist deliver
your selection
to Deliverance Episcopal Church
later than 8:30 a.m.
the day of the service.

DUE TO A GLITCH IN OUR SYSTEM
PLEASE DISREGARD THE FOLLOWING
NOTATION REGARDING ANY ORDERS
INCLUDING FLOWERS, CANDLES OR
MEMORIAL TREE PLANTINGS
WITH THE TRIBUTE STORE!!!!
THANK YOU!!

To send flowers in memory of Benjamin L Bynum Sr., visit the Tribute Store.

Cemetery Details

Location

Ivy Hill Cemetery Final Resting Place

Easton Road
P.O. Box 27307
Philadelphia, PA 19150

Easton Road Philadelphia 19150 PA
United States
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