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She grew up in Algiers, New Orleans and attended St. Joseph, St. Anthony and Holy Name of Mary schools. She graduated from Martin Behrman High School in 1966.
She has been married three times. Her first marriage was to Nace Anthony Salomone, on April 8, 1967, which ended in a divorce and annulment in 1972. Her second marriage was to Thomas "T-Bird" Bird, on February 14, 1977, in South Pass, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, which ended in a divorce on June 25, 1987.
While married, Gayle and Tom Benson funded the construction of the Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, which opened on campus on September 1, 2008.
In January 2012, Benson and her husband were awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for their service to Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI.
In November 2012 Gayle Benson and her husband, Tom, donated $7.5 million towards the construction of Tulane University's Yulman Stadium. The playing surface is known as Benson Field.
On December 27, 2014, Tom Benson wrote an e-mail to his daughter and two grandchildren stating he wanted "no further contact with any of you." Gayle Benson was named his heir.
On October 22, 2014, Gayle Benson and her husband commemorated their tenth anniversary by renewing their wedding vows at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.
In 2015 the Benson family gave $20 million for cancer care and research.
In July 2017, it was announced that Tom and Gayle Benson had finalized an agreement to buy a majority share of Dixie Brewing Co. The company's brewery plant had been damaged and closed after Hurricane Katrina. On August 7, 2018, Benson announced, with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, that Dixie Brewery would open a distribution center at the old MacFrugal's Distribution Center in New Orleans East.
Gayle's third marriage was to Tom Benson, who she was married to until his death in 2018. They met at St. Louis Cathedral,while Gayle was participating at a mass. They married on October 29, 2004, in San Antonio.
In February 2019 the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Trust donated $5 million to Jesuit High School.
In March 2019 the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Trust donated $3.5 million to Second Harvest
In September 2019 the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Trust donated $1 million to the campaign of Children's of Mississippi to build a playground at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.