Mary Benish

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Mary Dolores Benish, 98, of Mason City, Iowa, died Saturday, Jan 25, 2020, at Country Meadow Place in Mason City.

Mary Dolores Wallbaum Benish was born on Oct. 29, 1921, in Mason City, Iowa, in her grandmother’s home. Mary was the first grandchild born to both sets of grandparents. When Mary was nine months old, her father, Ernest Wallbaum, passed away. She and her mother, Mary Virginia, lived with her maternal grandparents in Mason City until Virginia married her second husband, Louis Gabriel Fernette and they moved to Prairie du Chien. Mary has great memories of her life on the Mississippi River. She had many aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings who would often get together in a big group. Mary graduated from Prairie du Chien High School and married her high school sweetheart, Raymond Frank Benish. After Raymond went into the service, she and their firstborn daughter, Linda, moved back to Mason City to care for Mary’s grandparents. Raymond returned from the service and they made their life in Mason City. Mary worked at Montgomery Wards and stayed there until it closed. She also was a census taker in 1960, when census takers had to go door to door. Mary reminisced that she would like to go to the homes over the noon hour because her favorite soap opera would be on and she would be invited in for coffee and watch. She also worked at the polling stations during elections, which she enjoyed immensely. Mary was well known for her sewing acumen. She made prom dresses, wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses and most all of her children’s clothing. She went into business with her stepfather making Barbie doll furniture and doll clothing. Mary was active in Holy Family Catholic Church. Her faith has always been an important part of her life. Her children and grandchildren would often telephone her and ask her to pray for them. They all believed she had a special pipeline to God! Her last Christmas gift to them was a rosary in their birthstones so “they could pray for her.” Mary was active in her church circle and often hosted them in her home. She made many friends there. Mary was also a Boy Scout and Girl Scout Leader for years. She enjoyed being around the young people and sharing her wisdom. Even now, children who were in her troops, remember her as their Den mother and Leader. Mary was the joy in every situation. If you ask anyone, every person who has ever been around Mary for very long will tell you what a wonderful person she was. The workers and residents of the assisted living places where she resided in her later years would all tell how much they loved her. Mary and Raymond had seven children together. She likes to tell the story that she would wait until the children were 5 years old and going to school before going back to work. It wouldn’t be too long before she was pregnant again! 

Mary is survived by six of her children,Linda Louise Boss, Thomas Edward Benish, Judith Ann (Patrick) Heller, Edward John (Pam) Benish, Mary Lynn (Roger) Timko and Laura Ann Quintero. Her son, Stephen Jay, passed away in 1953 at 6 months old. She also had 12 grandchildren. Every one of them proclaiming that he or she was grandma’s favorite: Michael (Alisa) Phillips, Kari Phillips (Devang Shah), Lisa Benish (Kevin Stach), Angela Heller, Meredith (Jeff) Steinfeldt, Leslie (Gautham) Ubale, Benjamin (Michelle) McCollum, Joseph (Emily) McCollum, Mary Rose (Robert) Ivey, Natalie Quintero and Robert Quintero. Mary’s grandson, Adam Benish, passed away in 2008.

Mary has 13 great grandchildren, Kayleigh Phillips, Gregory Phillips, Gabriela Maria Sanchez Heller, Naomi Forslund, Drew Steinfeldt, Patricia Steinfeldt, Abel Steinfeldt, Ravindra Ubale, Simone Ubale, MacKenzie Ubale, Peyton McCollum, Tate McCollum and Grace McCollum.

Mary was preceded in death by her husband Raymond Frank Benish; her infant son, Stephen Jay; her grandson, Adam Benish; a son-in-law, W. Andrew Boss; and three bothers, Patrick, Michael and Jerry Fernette. 

She is survived not only by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren but also by her sister, Virginia Lou White, and many nieces and nephews. 

Mary’s smile, warmth and faith will be missed!

A Mass of Christian Burial was Wednesday, Jan. 29, at Epiphany Parish Holy Family Catholic Church, 714 N. Adams Ave., with Rev. Neil Manternach officiating. Burial is at Elmwood-St. Joseph Cemetery in Mason City. 

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