Today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant was born on June 1, 1957. He was one of three sons born to Gerard “Pup” and Angela Isabel. He was a math wizard, a sports scholar, an enthusiastic veteran of Amsterdam’s softball wars, a gallant GAVAC volunteer, a highly respected letter carrier for the Amsterdam Post Office and he once hosted his own television show. Most of all Benedict “Benji” Isabel was well-liked, as well liked as any person who ever lived in this town.
He worshiped his parents, adored his brothers, in-fact family was the center of his being though friends were a very close second. He had an amazing intellect and thirst for knowledge, much like his Dad. There was nothing he did not know about sports, nothing! He loved the New York Mets, the San Francisco 49ers in football and the Tampa Bay Lightening in hockey and when he hosted a popular talk show on the now defunct Gateway Channel 8 local television station, viewers who tried to stump him never could. Pretty much the same was true for music and politics and so many other topics.
In his younger days he seemed to be everywhere in this town! If he weren’t playing softball, I’d see him delivering mail or jumping out of a GAVAC rig. He was so proud of the work he did for both those organizations. The last time we conversed was the summer of 2015, when I was preparing an Amsterdam Birthday post for his beloved father, Pup. He was so happy I was doing that and so appreciative. I did not realize at the time that Benji was a very sick young man. The months that followed were tough on him physically but his beloved Mets’ great postseason run that fall helped lift his spirits.
Sadly, Benji passed away in February of 2016. Even though he had a famous Amsterdam last name all you needed to hear was his first one to know who folks were referring to. Benji Isabel was truly an Amsterdam original and when he left us at much too young an age, this community lost a gem. Rest in peace Benji.