Mary J. Bennett

Mary J. Bennett

MADISON-Mary Jane Bennett, age 98, passed away on Monday, March 27, 2017, at Oakwood East.

Mary was born on Jan. 6, 1919, on a farm near Ridgeway, Wis. She was the third of four daughters born to Eugene and Edith (Griffiths) Gardner. Mary attended Rockwell Mills grade school and graduated from Ridgeway High School in 1936. Education was highly valued in the Gardner family and it was no exaggeration that Mary walked three miles every day to school. After graduation from Platteville State Teachers College in 1939, Mary taught at a number of one-room schools in and around Iowa County. In the summers during the war years, she worked at the Burgess Battery Factory in Mineral Point and the RMR Corporation in Madison. Mary was in her first year of teaching when her mother passed away in 1940, at the age of 46. Mary was 21 and just starting out in life. While teaching at Coon Rock School near Arena, Wis.,

Mary met Stephen Bennett who was on leave from the U.S. Army Air Force and was the handsome older brother of one of her students. They married on August 17, 1946. They had been married 54 years at the time of Stephen’s death in April of 2001. Mary and Stephen had two children, Sandra and Glenn.

Mary was devoted to her family and was a gentle, kind, and loving mother who taught by example. She truly never complained or said she didn’t have time. One of the most important gifts she gave her children was the love of reading and of libraries. When her children were young she taught Sunday school at the South Side Methodist Church and was active in 4-H. Mary worked for the Department of Transportation for 28 years where she made many life-long friends.

After her retirement in 1984, Mary volunteered for the Wisconsin Historical Society Museum. She also enjoyed trips to the western national parks, the Bahamas, Quebec, and the UK. In 1985, it was a highlight for her to see where her mother was born near Brecon, Wales, and to visit cousins living in that area. After her husband’s death, Mary lived with her son in his home. For her children it was a rich and rewarding experience caring for their mother in her later years. Despite having dementia, Mary kept her sparkle. Her children will never forget the joy of just sitting in the sunshine with her or singing together the many songs from a bygone era that she knew by heart. Mary’s charm, gentle sense of humor, and sweet disposition were endearing to everyone who knew, cared for, and loved her. In the last two years of her life, she was blessed with the friendship and affection of Yessi Contreras, who became like a grand-daughter to her.

Mary is survived by her children, Sandra Bennett and Glenn Bennett, both of Madison; her sister-in-law, Bonnie Bennett of Jefferson; her brother-in-law, Lee Bennett of Edgewood, WA; as well as many nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, Stephen; and her sisters, Anna Bennett, Florence Holland, and Betty Mortensen.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at GUNDERSON EAST FUNERAL AND CREMATION CARE, 5203 Monona Dr., Madison, at 4 p.m., on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Visitation will be held at the funeral home from 3:30 p.m. until the time of the service on Wednesday. Family and friends are invited to stay for refreshments after the service. Private burial will take place at Oak Hill Cemetery in Black Earth on Thursday.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Goodman South Madison Library, 2222 S. Park St. #101. Madison, or to any child or elder welfare organization.

For their friendship and support, Sandra and Glenn would like to thank the staff, residents, and families at Oakwood, that they came to know so well.

“Your loving smile, your gentle face, no one will ever fill the empty space.”

Gunderson East
Funeral and Cremation Care
5203 Monona Dr., madison