Mildred E. Bennington, 104, of Fayette, died Sunday, August 17, 2014, at Maple Crest Manor in Fayette.
Funeral services will be held 10:00 a.m. Thursday, August 21, 2014, at the United Methodist Church in Fayette with Rev. Hyeunmee Kang, Rev. Julie Ahrens, and Rev. Mary Hurmence officiating. Burial will follow at Grandview Cemetery in Fayette. Visitation will be held from 9:00 a.m. until service time Thursday at the church. Becker-Milnes Funeral home in Fayette is assisting Mildred’s family. Memorials may be made in her name to the Fayette County Historical Society, the United Methodist Church in Fayette or the American Cancer Society.
Mildred Ethel Stelzmiller was born near Arlington, Iowa on December 31, 1909, the daughter of Nellie Heinricke Jane Manson and Henry John Stelzmiller. They farmed in Fayette and Clayton Counties, where Mildred attended country schools. She graduated from West Union High School in 1927 during which time she received training to become an elementary school teacher. She taught in country school for five years and then completed the two year normal training program at Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa) in March 1933. She continued her teaching career in the Fayette Consolidated Schools for two years during which time she met her husband Glen Lester Bennington, who died on his 96th birthday, November 6, 2008. They were married on April 27, 1937 and became the parents of two living daughters, Janis Marie Bennington Van Buren of West Lafayette, IN and Lois Mildred Bennington Llewellyn of Littleton, CO. Charlene Bennington died at birth on October 9, 1945. Mildred was a loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend who took an active role in raising her daughters always stressing the values of education and service.
She led a full and caring life while contributing much to her family and the larger northeast Iowa community. Mildred believed that being a responsible community member was important and demonstrated that through active participation in numerous organizations. As a member of the Fayette United Methodist Church, she served in a variety of capacities. Because she drove her daughters to Sunday School each week, she decided to become a Sunday School teacher and taught for a number of years. Later she was a member of the church Administrative Board and served as financial secretary for five years. While she was a member of the Women’s Society of Christian Service, now United Methodist Women, she used her talents in various roles as treasurer, vice president for programs, and president.
As a young farm wife living East of Fayette, she joined the Willing Workers, a neighborhood women’s club and was secretary, vice president, and president during her nearly 50 years as a member. She helped the club gather items of clothing and other necessities to send to the Children’s Home in Council Bluffs. The club disbanded in the mid-1980s due to lack of membership. During her membership in the Fayette County Farm Bureau Women’s organization, Mildred as chairwoman in the early 1950’s, traveled to Des Moines to attend the state conventions.
While her daughters were teenagers, she was first an assistant leader and then the leader of the Westfield Worthy Winners 4-H club. She proved an excellent role model in teaching leadership and presentation and record keeping skills as well as knowledge related to home furnishings, clothing and textiles, and food and nutrition.
Mildred was honored for her 15 years of service to the American Cancer Association Fund Drive in the late 1990’s. She served this organization as the Fayette Chairperson for 5 years.
History, especially family history, has long been one of her passionate interests. Consequently, she served as a member of the Board of Fayette County Historical Association, acted as secretary, and did other volunteer work for the association, of which she was a lifetime member. Mildred was involved in the Fayette County Republican Women’s organization and felt honored when Elizabeth Dole visited their home during Robert Dole’s run for presidency.
For a number of years she was an active member of the Fayette County Retired School Personnel Association and served several terms as secretary. Mildred took great pleasure in volunteering at the country school house located on the county fairgrounds, both during the fair and when teachers brought their students to learn about the “good old days” of teaching and learning.
In 1996 for this range of activities in Fayette and surrounding environs, Mildred and Glen were named Outstanding Senior Citizens by the Fayette Chamber of Commerce.
To celebrate their 50th anniversary, they traveled to Australia and New Zealand. Both enjoyed Europe and while in Paris attended an international agriculture exposition and later a flower show in the Netherlands. They spent time in Switzerland, southern Germany, and toured a strawberry farm in England. In addition to having visited all of the Canadian Providences, Mildred relished travel in Hawaii, Alaska, and most of the contiguous states. In 1994 she and Glen toured the British Isles with the Manson cousins. While there they went to Lochmaben, Scotland and visited the grave sites of Mildred’s great, great, great grandparents, Andrew and Elizabeth Milligan Manson.
When she moved to the Maple Crest Manor Assisted Living Facility in June 2004, Mildred participated as a mentor for elementary school children and delighted in a good game of checkers with her great grandchildren and Upper Iowa University basketball players, if they had the courage to challenge her. She continued to attend United Methodist Women’s meetings and church services while living at Maple Crest.
In addition to her two daughters, she is survived by her two sons-in-law, James Boyle and Francis Llewellyn and five grandchildren. The grandchildren and spouses are Diane Van Buren Kiss (Laszlo), Andrew Van Buren (Sherri), Jillian Van Buren (Joe Brady), Gwen Llewellyn Schuldies (Carl), and Glen Llewellyn (Malena). Her eight great-grandchildren are Alexander, Matthew, and Christopher Van Buren, Wynn and Vincent Schuldies, Daniel Llewellyn, and Drew and Cora Brady and one great-great-grandson Bentley Bennington Van Buren. Also surviving are her sister Berniece (Stelzmiller) Walsh of Davenport, IA, several cousins, nieces, and nephews, and numerous friends of all ages.
Always active Mildred enjoyed gardening, collecting and preparing new recipes, doing needle point, and quilting until she could no longer see well. She continued to be an inquisitive learner, avid reader, faithful church goer, family historian, and teacher throughout her entire life. She will be greatly missed by her family and those who knew her as an amazing, intelligent, gentle, kind, and caring woman.