Janice Martin Benario

Even before Janice Martin Benario began her heroic work for classics, she was already a decorated hero of World War II.

A native of Baltimore, Janice graduated in 1943 Phi Beta Kappa from Goucher College, one of the seven women’s colleges chosen by the War Department to help in decrypting the German U-boat code that was transmitted on a machine called Enigma. Pultitzer-Prize winning English professor Ola Elizabeth Winslow was gathering ten English and Classics majors for the project. The women learned the basics in a top-secret blacked-out location and in two months Janice was officially an ensign in the Women’s navy unit (WAVES). Janice was assigned to a unit so ultra-top-secret that it was called ULTRA. By the time Janice arrived, British and American experts had solved the code, and Janice would read the decoded messages and route them appropriately. Sworn to secrecy under penalty of treason, Janice told no one about her service until, unbeknownst to her, the information was declassified in 1990 and written up in a book, which as a bonus contained a photo of her unit. When Herb gave her the book and she saw the photo, she gave forth a shout of joyful surprise and was finally able to tell her family, friends, and students of her wartime experiences.

In 1946 Janice returned to Baltimore where she received the M.A. and in 1952 the Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins. In 1957 she gained both a husband and a Fulbright and took both to the American Academy in Rome. She and Herb moved to Atlanta in 1960, where she began the Classics program at Georgia State University and sustained it for 30 years with important hires and excellent teaching.  For the latter she received the APA’s National Teaching Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Classics. After retiring from Georgia State, she taught both at Emory and Agnes Scott. A list of her services to CAMWS and papers given would exceed all reasonable length. Suffice it to notice that she received an Ovatio in 1986 and in 2010 the Benarios were awarded CAMWS’s Special Service Award for their long devotion to classical studies. Thanks to their generosity the Janice and Herbert Benario Award funds summer travel and research.

Janice died December 2, 2020 at the age of 97.