History & Staff
At Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel, we have provided customizable memorial services for many years. Personalized service options allow you to honor your loved ones in a way that is both meaningful and healing. We hope to provide support and caring while delivering memorial services that celebrate life and help families find the peace they deserve.
If you’re seeking an honorable celebration of life in Santa Cruz and the surrounding areas, we invite you to learn more about where we came from and the dedicated people behind our work.
A History of Caring
Every year more and more families choose to draw upon the support of Benito & Azzaro when they experience the loss of a loved one.
They make the decision for a variety of reasons but in most cases it comes down to one of the following.
Our focus on Beautiful Farewells – At Benito & Azzaro, we believe in celebrating life by creating a farewell ceremony that highlights the very essence of the person. A Beautiful Farewell is about friends and family coming together to remember their love, celebrate their life and honor their legacy.
Plenty of time to make your decisions - We believe in providing clear information about all of your options and giving you as much time as you like to make your decision. No pressure....just information, options and support for you and your family.
Beautiful & creative farewells - We believe in being very flexible when working with families. Looking to have a farewell in a unique setting? No problem. Would you like to bring the family pet? No problem. Our goal is to say yes to all of your farewell wishes.
24 hour access - Support for your family should not end when our work day is over. That is why you will have 24 hour access to your Farewell Planner. If there is a problem, and you do not know who to turn to, call us anytime day or night. We are here to help.
Worry free cremations - You should never have a reason to question whether we return the correct ashes to your family. That is why we have our own secure crematory and staff it with certified technicians. When it comes to cremation, 100% accuracy is the only acceptable standard.
Respect for your spiritual path - At Benito & Azzaro we believe that your spiritual path is your personal choice. Our focus is on helping you design a farewell ceremony that reflects and honors the path you have walked. Unconditional support for your spiritual path...because everyone deserves a Beautiful Farewell.
Our focus on telling the stories of a lifetime - We believe that everyone has a story worth telling. That is why we focus on helping your family plan and conduct a beautiful farewell ceremony that reflects your values, unites your family & friends and celebrates the story of a life well lived.
Our Staff’s Dedication to Respectful Care
A funeral, or memorial service, should provide family members and loved ones with the chance to reflect, remember, and celebrate a life well-lived. At Benito & Azzaro, our goal is to create exceptional services and experiences that fulfill the wishes of your loved one. Our experienced Funeral Directors provide guidance on the crucial first steps toward healing.
Location Leader - FDR4552
David McDonald is a Licensed Funeral Director and the Manager of Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel. Since his entrance into the funeral profession ten years ago, he has worked on four guiding initiatives: to assist families in times of need, to provide help to the community and those around him, to learn about funeral practices and customs, and to promote health and peace. Along with his Associate Degree in Business and Interdisciplinary Studies, he is pursuing further education. In 2019, David is honored to have joined the professional staff at Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel. In continuing the legacy of Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel, he is dedicated to wholeheartedly serving the families of Santa Cruz County.
Liz was born in Watsonville, and attended local schools. She started her career in banking, spanning 25 years with Comerica Bank; then enjoyed 14 years at Carmel Mission Basilica as Parish Secretary/Wedding Coordinator, supporting various ministries, including Bereavement Ministry. She is an active member of Holy Eucharist Parish in Corralitos; and is grateful for the experience she has gained along the way, to be able to share her talents with others, because she believes that "one of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others".
Licensed Embalmer - EMB7341
Vince was born and raised in Fresno, Ca. While attending Fresno State and studying ornamental horticulture, he was working at his father’s flower shop one weekend, delivering flowers to a local funeral home when he became interested in funeral service.
Vince began his career at that firm in 1980 and later attended Cypress Mortuary College where he earned a degree in Mortuary Science. He returned to the funeral home in Fresno, where he got his start and began a career that to this day, spans over 31 years in mortuary service. Vince and wife Tina were married in 1983, and with their one year old daughter, Mia, moved to Santa Cruz in 1985. That summer, he began working for Norman Benito at Norman’s Family Chapel with Gary Benito.
After 15 years with Norman’s Family Chapel, the opportunity presented itself to open a mortuary of his own. Vince and Gary became partners in Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel in 2000. Vince and Tina, and their daughters, Mia and Gianna all reside in Santa Cruz and are active in both community and school organizations and events. Vince remains dedicated to serving those that have suffered a loss in their family, and is privileged to be a part of a funeral chapel and staff that both exemplify a standard of excellence in the profession.
Michael Reeder was born in Tulare, Ca. As a child he was raised around the Mortuary Industry. He later moved out of the country, finishing his education and training, and then returned back to the U.S. Mike has worked in Georgia, Tennessee, New York and Arizona before moving back to California. He met his wife Michelle and had 3 kids. Michelle and Mike have lived in Santa Cruz for 25 years; he has spent 9 years in micro systems and 16 years in the Mortuary Industry in the California area. Michael is certified as a Funeral Counselor and Licensed Crematory Manager/Operator, and works after hours dedicated to serving and care for those that just suffered a loss of a loved one.
Family Service Counselor
Family Service Counselor
Patricia has been helping families pre-plan their final wishes since 2015. Prior to that she managed a firm that specializes in Medicare Supplements and Long Term Care programs. She understands the importance of listening and customizes the best plan for every individual so they can have peace of mind knowing that their wishes are in place.
Her forte is her ability to create a safe, comfortable environment so it is easier for the client to make sound financial and emotional decisions.
She has a passion for Natural, Green burial options, and you are in good hands knowing that with her expertise and friendly, communicative demeanor, she will assist you towards the best plan possible.
Patricia has raised her son Jesse and daughter Dhyana here in Santa Cruz and resides with her partner Jeff.
Funeral Director - FDR20
Gary was born and grew up in Santa Cruz, he attended local schools and was a graduate of Marello Preparatory High School, class of 1977. Following his high school graduation he began working for his father in their family’s business, Norman’s Family Chapel. Gary later attended Cypress Junior College and graduated with a degree in mortuary science. He resumed his position in his family’s business eventually becoming manager. Gary continued in his position as general manager following the sale of Norman’s Family Chapel to the Loewen Group International in 1993.
In 1999 after many successful and rewarding years working together, Gary formed a partnership with Vince Azzaro and purchased Chapel of the Four Seasons from which they began their business. Gary has earned a reputation of excellence, professionalism and compassion. A reputation built on hard work and dedication which is reflected in his staff and the services they deliver.
When not at work, Gary enjoys spending time with his wife, Val and his daughter Emily and his friends. He enjoys riding dirt bikes, bicycles, mountain biking and snow skiing. He is active in a number of civic, fraternal and social organizations. He is a member of the board of Dominican Hospital Foundation. He is a member of the Santa Cruz Host Lions, the Santa Cruz Elks Lodge, Marconi Club and the Italian Catholic Federation.