1992 Inductee - Maximino 'Max' Rios Benitez


1992 Inductee - Maximino 'Max' Rios Benitez

Inducted into the 1992 Mexican American Hall of Fame

Maximino Rios Benitez “Max” was born in October 7, 1930 in Riverbank California. His family moved and settled in East Stockton. He worked in the fields to help support his family. When attending kindergarten, he was suspended for not being able to speak English. This rejection hurt him so deeply that he vowed he would never turn his back on any human being. Neither would he ever forget where he came from.

When attending school he became the captain of the traffic boys. At that time, he vowed he would someday be in law enforcement. In 1952, he married Stocktonian Barbara Cruz, and in 1955 went to work as a deputy sheriff as one of the first few minorities in the Sheriff’s Department. He viewed his job as more than the enforcement of laws; he took the time to talk to the less fortunate people. His compassion, however, earned the ridicule of his peers who did not view his actions as proper police procedure. Undaunted, he always found the time for the “underdog”. Eventually Max and Barbara would raise seventeen foster children in addition to their two natural children. He was devoted to the Catholic Church. He was the founder of the Council for the Spanish Speaking and was the first ordained deacon, in addition to his duties as lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Department. During his tenure with the dept., Sheriff Canlis utilized Max as a community relations office because of his excellent communication skills. He was often sent out to riots, striving to ease the tension.

Max rejected a materialistic lifestyle. He lived very humbly and was not impressed with worldly riches. Max succumbed to a stroke July 22, 1990, just 31/2 months after his retirement. In his eulogy to Max, Father McGovern stated “Max was always broke, not because he spend his money foolishly, but because he could never refuse anyone in need”. His home was always open with people receiving hospitality and counseling: Men and women from the department; a young destitute migrant couple; a family who fled communism in Chili. Max and Barbara conducted religious instructions for mentally handicapped children and also at the migrant camps.

Max lived to his teachings, “Never turn you back on anyone because it could be Jesus”. He taught his family about humility and honesty. He always said, “You have to look at yourself in the mirror everyday, and if you deliberately hurt anyone, you wand the Lord will know”. He devoted his life to the community and those less fortunate. He was a true Christian and an upholder of the law, in which he felt went hand in hand. He was a legend of his own, and loved by many. He was a role model of many, he brought many to the law enforcement field, and to the Church.

A scholarship was stated by the Council for the Spanish Speaking in memory of Max Benitez.