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Mr. Truman Benedict

Truman Benedict


  • World War 11 P-38 Pilot
  • Prominent educator
  • Former Superintendent of Capistrano Unified School District
  • Former Mayor of San Clemente
For more than a half-century, Truman Benedict dedicated himself to educational and community improvement during the most explosive period of growth in Southern California's history.
In 1948, Mr. Benedict began teaching in the San Clemente Elementary School District. There were no local unified school districts, state standards, Advanced Placement examinations or SAT 9 tests. He taught 7th and 8th grades at Las Palmas School in the 240-student district, then becoming a principal, an ultimately superintendent. Mr Benedict was instrumental in unifying three neighboring districts (San Juan Capistrano Elementary, Capistrano Beach Elementary, and Capistrano Union High School) into the new Capistrano Unified School District in 1965.
Benedict served as Assistant Superintendent of instruction and certificated personnel in the newly formed entity, helping to put its first budget together and strengthen its financial footing. In 1969, Benedict was named Superintendent. After three decades of service in public education, he retired in 1975.
After retiring, Mr. Benedict volunteered to coach local boys and girls athletic teams and helped found the community's first Optimist Boys Club. He was a docent at the San Clemente Historical Society and active volunteer assisting in community events, including Halloween Night and the Easter Egg Hunt. He was named the San Clemente Citizen of the Year in 1990.
Having served under elected officials for many years, Benedict decided to become one himself, being elected to the San Clemente City Council in 1990, Councilman Benedict served until 1994. Serving as Mayor in 1992, Mr. Benedict was an advocate for the building of parks, fields or anything else needed in his community. 
In 1987, a major honor was bestowed when the Capistrano Unified Board of Trustees named a new San Clemente elementary school in his name, recognizing him for countless contributions to students during his 30 years as a teacher and administrator. Truman Benedict Elementary is a K-5 school located in the Forster Ranch community in San Clemente, and home of the Bobcats. Benedict and his family, including his four grandchildren, were honored at the school's dedication ceremony. 
The road to San Clemente for Benedict began in Quanah, Texas, where he was born on January 8, 1923. He moved to California with his family in 1935. After the United States entered World War II, he joined the U.S. Army, serving as a Lieutenant in the 54th Fighter Squadron as a P-38 fighter pilot. In 1946, Benedict enrolled at Whittier College, and after graduation in 1948, began his educational career in San Clemente. He and his wife Betty raised their two daughters in town. Sadly, Mr. Benedict passed away in the spring of 2012.  He leaves behind a wonderful legacy.
Truman Benedict Highlights
  • Born in Quanah, Texas on January 8, 1923
  • Joined the United States Army and served as a in Lieutenant in the 54th Fighter Squadron as a P-38 fighter pilot during World War II.
  • Graduated from Whittier College in 1948
  • Hired as a teacher in 1948 by the San Clemente Elementary School District
  • Named principal of Las Palmas School in 1953
  • Appointed superintendent of San Clemente Elementary School District in 1955
  • Worked to unify local school districts into Capistrano Unified School District in 1965
  • Served as Capistrano Unified's Assistant Superintendent of Instruction and Classified Personnel from 1965 to 1969
  • Capistrano Unified Superintendent in 1969
  • Retired in 1975
  • Active community volunteer 1975-1990s
  • Truman Benedict Elementary School in San Clemente named for him in 1987
  • San Clemente Citizen of the Year in 1990
  • Elected to San Clemente City Council in 1990, serving one term as Mayor