On December 20, 2023, Deacon Wallace Benton won his battle with his illness when God called him peacefully to eternal rest. He was born October 22, 1937, in Southampton County, Virginia to the late Ollie Benton and Carrylene Scoggins Benton.
Deacon Benton was joined in holy matrimony to Deaconess Mildred Tann Benton on February 9, 1957. To this union one child was born. He loved his family, and he made many sacrifices for them. He was a provider for his family and most of all he was the spiritual leader of his family. He also was an undercover comedian, and his family enjoyed many days laughing and spending time with him. The majority of the time you never saw Wallace without Mildred. They were a powerful couple.
Deacon Benton accepted Christ at an early age and was a lifetime member of the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. He loved God and he loved his church. He was ordained as a Deacon in April, 1958 at the age of 20 years old. He could be called a “Pastor’s Deacon,” because he supported each of his Pastors’ Visions. He had no problem following them as they followed Christ. He believed that leaders should be present and early. He considered being on time late and he practiced what he preached. He served faithfully until his health declined. Even during sickness and pain, he attended worship services as long as he could. Over the years he has served in the Male Chorus since it was first organized, Gospel Choir, Mass Choir, Men’s Ministry, Outreach Ministry, and he attended Sunday School. He was the former Ministry Leader of the Music Ministry. He continued the Annual Gospel Wagon Program after the passing of the Founder and his friend, Deacon Jessie Murphy, Sr. He also served on various committees in the church.
Deacon Benton attended the Southampton County Public Schools. He was a farmer as a child and continued throughout adulthood. He began working at Narricot Industries in 1964. He briefly retired in 2000, but went back for a temporary assignment that turned into almost twenty years. He retired AGAIN in 2019. He cherished the friendships he made at Narricot Industries. He especially loved encouraging the younger men who he worked with.
He had the gift of singing and he loved quartet music. He began singing with the Gospel Five of Boykins at the age of nine years old. He also sung with the following quartets: the Gospel Harmoneers of Ivor, the Gospel Harmoneers of Branchville, the Harmonizing Jubilees of Murfreesboro, NC and the Virginia Allstars of Boykins, Va of which he was the founder. He also had several recordings with Minister Johnnie Ruffin. When he was about twelve years old, his father was approached by a professional group, the Dixie Hummingbirds. They wanted Deacon Benton to go on the road with them and offered to send him to school. His father’s reply was, “no, you can’t take my boy with you.” One of Deacon Benton’s proudest moments was when some of the young boys of the church approached him about helping them start a quartet group. He worked with them, and Donovan Whitfield, Nathan Goodwyn, Darryl Goodwyn, Dennis Whitfield and Shawn Benton became the Singing Sons of Shiloh. Later, they chose to change their name to the W. B. Harmoneers. Another proud moment was when he was singing with the Gospel Harmoneers of Ivor. His little cousin Minister Jessie Scoggins, Jr., with his little guitar in hand, went with him on stage at around the age of three. Minister Scoggins called him, “Wawi” and still does to this day. Deacon Benton sang at many funerals for family and friends. Mostly requested was “Precious Lord” and “Amazing Grace.” He also sang an original arrangement of “The Lord’s Prayer,” at several weddings.
Deacon Benton loved gardening. At harvest time, he had great joy in blessing the elderly, as well as anyone else with fresh vegetables. He never asked for anything in return.
Deacon Benton was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, Lloyd (Peterbo) Benton and James (Peter Rabbit) Benton, Sr., and one sister, Louise Grant.
He leaves to cherish his memory his dedicated and loyal wife of 66 years, Deaconess Mildred Benton; one daughter, Rev. Teresa Jenkins and his son-in law who he called his son, Deacon Raymond Jenkins; two granddaughters who were his pride and joy, Raiesha Smith and Raven James (Shaquan); two great grandsons Hayden Smith and Tyler Hamlin; a son at heart, Ed Turner; two sisters, Hattie Jackson and Edith Hines; one brother-in-law, William Grant, Sr., Nephews: Morris, Michael, Curtis and William, Jr.; Nieces: Brenda, Francine, Crystal, Dawn, Felecia, Bernadette, Jennifer, Tracy, and Stephanie. A special cousin, Rev. Melvin Scoggins; a God-son, Dr. John Faison; a God-sister, Rose Grant and God-brother, Joe Murphy. Loving neighbors of over 50 years, the Barnes family and the Mason family. Special friends who remained faithful in checking on him weekly, Leroy Wiggins and Rev. Dennis Ramsey. Many other cousins and friends.