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In Memory of
Beny J. Primm
May 28, 1928 - October 16, 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
The Abyssinian Baptist Church 132 Odell Clark Place New York, NY

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 11:00 AM
The Abyssinian Baptist Church 132 Odell Clark Place New York, NY

Long Island National Veterans Cemetery, 2040 Wellwood Avenue Farmingdale, NY US

Beny J. Primm, M.D.


Birth: May 21, 1928
Mingo County
West Virginia, USA
Death: Oct. 16, 2015
New Rochelle
Westchester County
New York, USA

Family links:
George Oliver Primm (1896 - 1974)
Willie M Primm (1895 - 1974)

Delphine Evans Primm (1930 - 1975)

Long Island National Cemetery
East Farmingdale
Suffolk County
New York, USA
Plot: Section 2Q, Site 1512-A

Dr. Beny Primm Award: established in 2007, recognizes the work of a black male medical student who is academically sound, who is active in our community helping to increase health literacy and interested in health careers.

Obituary for Beny J. Primm, M.D.

Beny Jene was born in Appalachia during the Great Depression, growing up in a household in which education was greatly valued. His family migrated to New York City when he was an adolescent, affording him an integrated experience in his high school years. He attended Historically Black institutions including Lincoln University and West Virginia State University. He played basketball, pledged the fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha and was in ROTC.

He was proud of his military service and involvement as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, NC achieving the rank of First Lieutenant at a time when being a black officer was a novelty. His bravery and confidence augmented by the leadership skills he developed in the Army, which prepared him for a life of service and the building of a legacy.

Beny went to Europe to pursue his dream of becoming a physician. His knowledge of the German language enabled him to attend briefly the University of Heidelberg Medical School. When a better opportunity emerged to study medicine at the University of Geneva, he was undaunted by not knowing French. This unthinkable endeavor speaks to his great courage and determination to succeed under the most difficult circumstances. During this same time period, he married Delphine Evans and would have his first of four daughters. While in Europe, he served as a translator for the Modern Jazz Quartet and would have fascinating cross-cultural experiences such as tending to the wounds of fishermen in Wales who sustained injuries during bar brawls.

His medical career was legendary. In his early years as an anesthesiologist in Long Island, NY, due to his equanimity under duress he was sought out to cover the emergency room over the weekends with its high level of trauma cases. Disturbed by the racial disparity in pay, he left to join the medical staff of Harlem Hospital, which was a gateway for him to address head-on, the health challenges facing the black community in a social and political context. The heroin epidemic was one of the challenges he chose to focus on, treating substance use disorders at a time when caring for people with addictions was not a popular specialty. From then on, his work was dedicated to addressing the unmet health needs of underserved people in New York, and eventually the nation and across the world.

Political advocacy for the health and well-being of communities led to Beny receiving funds to develop the Addiction Research and Treatment Corporation (ARTC), which for over 40 years employed upwards of 600 people and was the largest minority employer in New York City. In addition to a focus on the study and care of substance use disorders, Beny pioneered the creation of what he called a "supermarket" of services, a "one-stop shop" to surround people with addictions including innovative approaches to education, vocational services, residential programs for people with intellectual disability, and housing for victims of intimate partner violence. He was tapped to serve as the first Director of the Office of Treatment Improvement, now known as the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In this national leadership role, he ensured that addiction treatment programs around the country thrived and services were designed to meet the needs of people in a culturally appropriate manner. He also initiated Treatment Improvement Protocols (TIPs) which continue today as a trusted educational resource on the treatment of substance use disorders for health facilities nationwide.

He was an ardent voice decrying the scourge and stigma of HIV/AIDS from the beginning of the epidemic, embracing another marginalized group, the gay community. Beny was a trusted advisor to many U.S. Presidents on substance use, HIV/AIDS and health disparities. His leadership and advocacy in these areas were crucial to funds being allocated for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in the U.S. and internationally. He was a statesman and a legendary public speaker electrifying audiences with his slides, frank talk and down-to-earth delivery. These qualities came in handy when he traveled with Magic Johnson to enlighten faith communities about the role they could play in facilitating HIV prevention and treatment and reducing stigma associated with the illness.

Another one of his major contributions is his mentoring and guidance of a multitude of junior colleagues and young disciples across the nation. He was a founding board member of Mentoring in Medicine, an organization dedicated to supporting the growth and development of underrepresented groups in the health professions. Until his last days he made himself available to advise any and all who needed his wise counsel and strategic perspective on a wide range of situations.

As a widowed father with four daughters, he made sure that all of them were imbued with a sense of independence, a strong racial identity and pride, an active concern for humanity, and about exuding warmth and a common touch with people of all walks of life, mirroring his great love of people.

When Beny, affectionately known as "Doc", walked in a room, he did so with exquisite personal style. Influenced by his European experience, he was always impeccably dressed. He had the most beautiful handwriting, quite unusual for a physician. He was a stickler for table manners and was a charming gentleman who loved to dance which made him popular in the many social groups to which he belonged. To marry his love of art and recognition that art is therapeutic, he masterminded the development of ARTCCURIAN, an innovative gallery established at ARTC to showcase commissioned, mural-size work of artists from the African diaspora.

Dr. Primm often declared, "I will not die with my music in me." He sang his songs until his last days and what he didn't realize is that his songs will be sung forever through all of us whose lives he touched.

Dr. Primm is predeceased by his wife Delphine Evans Primm; by his long-time companion and professional associate, Barbara Gibson; and by Maxine Dotson, his executive assistant of 40 years. He leaves to continue his legacy his daughters, Dr. Annelle Primm, Martine Primm, Jeanine Primm Jones, and Dr. Eraka Bath; his sons-in-law, the Honorable Ken Jones and Alex Fortuit; and his granddaughters India Primm-Spencer and Noa Fortuit. He is also survived by his fiancée, Ellena Stone Huckaby, his godchildren Eric Stone Huckaby and Peri Hamlin Blassingame and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, dear friends and mentees.

An Online Memorial was created to commemorate the life of Dr. Benny J. Primm. You are invited to add a Tribute in his memory. Please click "Sign Guestbook" below to add your own memories, reflections, thoughts and condolences.


Bragg Funeral Home

Carnie P. Bragg Funeral Home, Inc.

256 Rosa Parks Blvd.

Paterson, New Jersey 07501

(973) 278-6330

Carnie P. Bragg Funeral Home, Inc.

143 Myrtle Ave.

Passaic, NJ 07055


Funeral Home

J. Foster Phillips Funeral Home

17924 Linden Blvd.

Jamaica Queens, NY US


The Abyssinian Baptist Church

132 Odell Clark Place

New York, NY

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

9:00 AM - 11:00 AM


The Abyssinian Baptist Church

132 Odell Clark Place

New York, NY US

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

11:00 AM


Long Island National Veterans Cemetery

2040 Wellwood Avenue

Farmingdale, NY US

Thursday, October 22, 2015

1:00 PM

Beny Primm

Dr. Beny Primm was born on May 28th, 1928, in Williamson, West Virginia, the son of an educator and a mortician. He and his brother Jerome were raised in a home in which education was emphasized, and in 1941, Primm's mother, who was the principal of a local elementary school, moved the family to the Bronx, New York so that her sons could attend integrated high schools.

From an early age, Beny Primm wanted to be a doctor, and after four years at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, he received a basketball scholarship to attend Lincoln University. There, Primm was surrounded by bright and driven students, and six of the members of his basketball team would go on to become doctors or Ph.D.'s. He left Lincoln after two years, unable to cope with the school's rigorous academic pressure, and returned to West Virginia where he graduated from West Virginia State University. After several years in the service as a paratrooper, Dr. Primm returned home with an injury, and was unable to get into medical school in the United States. Having studied German in college, he decided to apply to the University of Heidelberg, and was accepted in 1953. After a year at Heidelberg, Primm transferred to University of Geneva, in Switzerland, and received his M.D. in 1959.

In 1969, he helped to found the Addiction Research Treatment Corporation and has been the executive director ever since. A.R.T.C., located in Brooklyn, New York, is one of the largest minority non-profit community-based substance abuse treatment programs in the country, treating over 2,300 men and women from underserved communities.

Since 1983, Dr. Primm has also been president of the Urban Resource Institute, an umbrella organization that supports various community-based initiatives and social service programs for battered women, the developmentally disabled, substance abusers, and those infected with HIV and AIDS. A national authority on drug addiction, Dr. Primm has served as an adviser to the National Drug Abuse Policy Office since the Nixon administration.

Dr. Primm is also internationally recognized as one of the world's foremost experts on HIV and AIDS, an area of study he pursued initially due to the disease's intimate relationship with addiction and the epidemic levels of infection among I.V. drug users. He has served on the Presidential Commission on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Epidemic, and has represented the U.S. at numerous international conferences, including the World Health Organization's conference in Geneva and the International Conference for Ministers of Health on AIDS prevention in London.

Widely published, he has written over thirty articles on addiction, which have appeared in numerous medical texts and journals. He has also delivered speeches, lectures and keynote addresses around the world, and has been a visiting lecturer at a dozen different academic institutions, including Columbia University, Harvard University and New York University.

Primm passed away on October 16, 2015.




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Birth: May 21, 1928 Williamson Mingo County West Virginia, USA Death: Oct. 16, 2015 New Rochelle Westchester County New York, USA Family links: Parents: George Oliver Primm (1896 - 1974) Willie M Primm (1895 - 1974) Spouse: Delphine Evans Primm (1930 - 1975) Inscription: 1ST LIEUTENANT US ARMY KOREA Burial: Long Island National Cemetery East Farmingdale Suffolk County New York, USA Plot: Section 2Q, Site 1512-A