Pearl Ethel Smith Benoy, Whitewater, WI/formerly Elkhorn, WI (1922-2015)

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September 21, 2015

June 26, 1922 - September 15, 2015

The long and wonderful life of Pearl Ethel Smith Benoy came to an end on Sept. 15, 2015. In the last days of her life she was still teaching us lessons: patience and the reminder that we are not in control. Pearl was born on June 26, 1922, at the farm home of her parents, Alonzo and Ethel Smith, on the prairie east of Ringwood, IL. She was the second of seven children who lived to adulthood. Pearl had a pleasant childhood growing up near both her maternal and paternal grandparents. She told stories about picnics and horseback riding at Aunt Katie’s farm; swimming in Nippersink creek; and sleigh rides to school in Ringwood. Pearl went to McHenry High School; she graduated in 1940. A fond high school memory was being a part of the chorus and traveling to the 1938 Chicagoland Music Festival held at Soldiers’ Field. In the words of a newspaper article about the event “85,000 persons present struck tiny flames at the director’s request when the field lights were turned out…. Gasps of admiration at the beauty of the spectacle were heard from all over Soldiers’ Field.” Also during her high school years, Pearl was involved in Rural Youth and Epworth League and through those activities met her life partner, Wilbur Thomas Benoy. They were married on Feb. 19, 1943, in Woodstock, at the home of her sister, Ellen. Pearl and Wilbur shared the day of their anniversary with her parents and they enjoyed celebrating together over the years.

In November of 1943, Wilbur was deployed to the Pacific so Pearl was alone when their first daughter, CoEllen, was born in late January 1944. Pearl and CoEllen welcomed Wilbur back home in November 1945. In 1947, they moved to a farm between Elkhorn and East Troy, WI, where, over the next ten years they welcomed three more daughters: Melodie, Bonnie and Pamela. We, children, are privileged to have her as our Mom. Her whole life’s journey has been dedicated to helping us with ours. Pearl helped run the family farm operation working in the barns and fields; raising chickens and selling eggs; and keeping the business records. She had a big vegetable garden and many flower gardens. She was an accomplished seamstress making fashionable (well, we thought so at the time!) clothes for herself and her family. She enjoyed photography and had an eye for capturing nature. Pearl was active in the community as a member of the Homemakers’ Club, as a 4-H leader and volunteering at the Lakeland Nursing Home. She supported democracy by working many years as a poll worker. She was an active member of Bethel United Methodist church, where she enjoyed singing in the choir; participating in United Methodist Women study groups and conferences; being an MYF leader; helping with vacation Bible school and numerous other events. She loved to read and also was a regular blood donor as evidenced by her 8-gallon Red Cross pin.

In retirement, Pearl and Wilbur enjoyed traveling throughout the United States both in their camper and by rail, plane and car visiting family and friends and taking in the sights. Especially memorable was a family trip to Hawaii in 1997, where Wilbur showed his wife and daughters the places associated with his World War II army service. Pearl and Wilbur also traveled to Europe and Central America. In 2003, they sold the farm and moved to nearby Lake Wandawega, where they enjoyed a slower pace of life. In 2010, they moved to Fairhaven in Whitewater. Wilbur preceded her in death on Jan. 9, 2015.

Pearl is survived by her four daughters: CoEllen (Keith) Sterwald of Bella Vista, AR, Melodie (Donald) West of Elkhorn, Bonnie (Rodney) Benson of Madison, and Pamela (John) Duerst of Whitewater. Additionally, she is survived by her AFS daughter, Maya (Tom) Walkington-Stauber of Lakeville, MN; her brother, Samuel (Pam) Smith of Stella, NC; her sisters-in-law: Althea Walkington, Arlene Benoy and Marilyn Benoy. She is further survived by seven grandchildren: Patrick (Anna) Reedy of Holcombe, Angela (Lee) Heiling of Beaver Dam, Jean (Tom) Madsen of Watertown, Jodi (Jim) Aron of Whitewater, Neil (Kate Peronne) West of Whitewater, Meghan (Kyle) Anderson of Waukesha, Brian (Heather) Duerst of Milwaukee. Survivors also include twelve great-grandchildren; four great-great grandchildren; and over 50 nieces and nephews.

The family gives heartfelt thanks to the staff of Fairhaven for their compassionate care of Pearl over the past five years. Thanks also to the staff of Rainbow Hospice for their care and support in the last several months.

Inurnment will be private. A Memorial Celebration of Pearl’s Life will be held at 12 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17th, at FIN AND HOOVES RESTAURANT, Whitewater, WI.

Guest registry can be found at www.haaselockwoodfhs.com. HAASE-LOCKWOOD & ASSOCIATES FUNERAL HOME AND CREMATORY of Elkhorn, WI, is assisting the family.


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