Beloved Former Congressman Benjamin Gilman Dies at 94

The Middletown native was skilled in international affairs but never forgot his hometown roots

Former Congressman Benjamin Gilman, a native of Middletown who was an expert in international relations, died Saturday, December 17, at Castle Point Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wappingers Falls. He was 94.

Gilman, born in Poughkeepsie, was a Middletown High School graduate who served in World War II. Serving with the Army Air Corps, he flew 35 bombing missions over Japan and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal.

After the war, Gilman earned a law degree and opened a law office in Middletown.

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He began his 30-year career in Congress in 1972. During his tenure, Gilman – a Republican — stood up for many causes, ranging from Soviet Jewry to Tibetans suffering under Chinese rule. His talent for juggling international, national, and local issues was widely admired; SUNY Orange’s Gilman Center for International Education in Middletown is named after the congressman.

Before he left Congress in January 2003, the State Department awarded him its highest honor: the Distinguished Service Gold Medal.

Known for his finesse in international relations, Gilman never forgot the Hudson Valley. He was a mainstay at local parades and was proud to represent his home region whenever he could.

On Tuesday, December 20, locals will honor him one last time. Rabbi Marcus Rubenstein will officiate at his funeral services, set for 10 a.m. at Temple Sinai, 75 Highland Avenue in Middletown. Burial will follow at the West Point Cemetery.

Survivors include his wife, Georgia; his son Jonathan Gilman and his wife Monica; son Harrison Gilman and daughter Susan Gilman; Nicole Pappas and her husband Nicholas; Peter Tingus and his wife Jody; and 11 grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son David and daughter Ellen. 

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