Santa Clara Magazine is published in print for alumni and friends of the University. It is updated weekly on the web.
Benita Carmen Leon Reimal M.A. ’80 was born in Reedley, California, on Nov. 5, 1934, to Porfirio and Michaela Goni Leon, originally from the Basque region of Navarre, Spain. Benita was raised on her parent’s farm in Wasco, California, where her strong Catholic faith and upbringing provided her a source of comfort and strength, which inspired everyone around her. She graduated from Fresno State magna cum laude prior to meeting her husband William (Bill) Reimal at a school district meeting in Bakersfield, California. They were married on April 14, 1962, and had a good life together for 57 years. She taught fifth grade, and Bill taught history and coached football, baseball, and basketball. They are their young daughter Teresa Reimal moved to Visalia, where they continued their respective careers in education. Larry joined the family in May 1965. The family moved to Gilroy in 1967, where Bill was hired as a counselor and wrestling coach at Gavilan Jr. College in Gilroy. Benita was hired at Gilroy Unified School District as a fifth grade elementary school teacher. She continued her education at night and obtained her master’s in special education from SCU. Benita continued to work as an elementary school teacher and resource specialist throughout GUSD. She was bilingual, speaking fluent Spanish and English, and was instrumental in encouraging her husband to pursue his advanced master’s and doctoral degrees. Benita retired after 35 years of teaching with a special gift for teaching others. She cared for and tutored her grandchildren, Caitlyn and Carissa Pierotti, Rebeca Reimal, Rachel Reimal and Larry Jr. every day (all affectionately call her “LaLa”) until she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. She maintained a warm smile and positive attitude as she fought the degenerative brain disease bravely. After retiring Benita also performed volunteer work in Gilroy at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. Joseph’s, and Rotacare. She also served as board president of AAUW and PEO. Benita was a devoted and loving wife, mother, and grandmother always willing to be of help to her loved ones and others. She passed away peacefully at home on Oct. 5, 2019, and will be greatly missed by all those who knew her. Benita is survived by her loving husband, Bill Reimal; daughter Teresa Reimal, son Larry Reimal, and daughter-in-law Camille Reimal; granddaughters Caitlyn and Carissa Pierotti, Rebeca Reimal, and Rachel Reimal; grandson Larry Reimal Jr.; and great-grandchild Audrey Brooklyn Marie Pierotti. Her loving sister Gloria Lisk, brother-in-law Ronald Lisk, niece Michelle and her husband Kevin Kelly, and great-nephews Cameron and Brennan also survive her.