|Birth: ||May 1, 1911|
|Death: ||Feb. 7, 2005|
Garden County News (Oshkosh, Nebraska), Feb. 17, 2005, Page 3
Bertha Augusta Mae (Brooks) Benzen, the last leaf of the Charles Brooks family tree.
Bertha was born on May 1, 1911 in Ozark County at Ava, Missouri to Charles Curry Brooks (aka Charley) and Martha Jane Manis, the tenth child of the family of 14. The story goes that eight year old Mattie Magnolia was sent out to the strawberry patch to watch John, 5; Cassie, 3; and Ray, 1, during Bertha's birth.
Bertha held the distinction among 13 siblings of three given names, two of them, German (after her mother's best friends) in an Irish family. Bertha was a happy child and the favorite of her older brothers. They called her Bill and would say, "Bill can do it" to anything that came up. (Maybe that is what held her through the trials and tribulations of 93 plus years.)
Years later, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren dubbed her "Grandma Birdie."
In 1913, Bertha's eldest brother, Arlie, contracted T.B. The Brooks family sold out and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico for his health. Arlie died in the fall of 1914, and the family moved to Nebraska the following January. They settled on the Redlinger place, near the old Braden store/post office (the Bradens were relatives of Charley.)
In 1916, Charley drove a team of horse to Alliance and acquired the last free Kincaid Homestead in McPherson County, now in northeastern Garden County. In 1919, the Brooks bought the Boyer place (now owned by the Conrad Lobner family). From then on, it was referred to as the 'home place' by the Brook's posterity. Martha and Charley were referred to as "Mom" and "Dad" by all of their descendants.
Bertha knew her 'readin, 'ritin' and 'rithmetic before she went to school at nine years old. She began her formal education at the Sandhills Fairview School, District #16 and graduated from Garden County High School in 1931.
After graduation, Bertha worked as a maid and waitress. On July 23, 1936, she married Paul Donald Benzen in an outdoor double wedding ceremony, along with her sister Virginia and Paul E. Temple. The marriages were officiated by Rev. John Brooks and Rev. George Goodwin, (brother and brother-in-law of the brides) at the home place.
The new Benzen couple lived in various locations in Arthur and Garden counties during their marriage. To this union, three girls were born: Jacqueline Jean, Carol Lynne and LaVema Kay. The family moved to Lutherville's Patterson Place in 1956. Paul and Bertha worked together fanning, as a team, throughout their married life. Bertha also held several outside jobs before they retired. Paul went to his eternal destiny in 1984. In 1986, Bertha bought and remodeled the Lewellen Methodist Parsonage, where she lived until she moved to Beverly Healthcare in 2001 at Sargent.
Bertha was passionate about her family, dolls, her pretty dishes, china closets, the Republican Party, poetry and good literature. For her 50th high school reunion, Bertha wrote, "My Journey Through Life", in verse. She also received the Silver Poets reward for writing, "Welcome to Our Valley," a poem alluding to the local North Platte Valley and Rachel Pattison, the Pioneer girl who was one of the first persons buried at the Ash Hollow Cemetery.
Bertha loved Nebraska, nature (birds, flowers, sunsets) her antiques, and all pretty things. She invariably made her environment prettier. Her grandchildren remember the beautiful flower gardens she cultivated.
Bertha always encouraged and, supported her posterity in their endeavors. She was very hospitable and those who sat at her table remember her excellence in cooking. Bertha was creative, generous, merciful, loyal, compassionate, courageous and resourceful person.
Bertha was a staunch Republican and her favorite president was Ronald Reagan. She loved him not only because of his charismatic personality and the dignity he brought to the Presidency, but also because he shared her Irish heritage and year of birth.
Bertha was baptized in 1949, at the Methodist Church in Trenton, by her brother-in-law, Rev. George Goodwin. She was a member of the Lewellen United Methodist Church.
Bertha passed into eternity on February 7, 2005. Her services were held on February 11, 2005 at the United Methodist Church in Lewellen and she was put to rest beside Paul at the Ash Hollow Cemetery. Pastor Ray Weinerman officiated. Pallbearers were Curtis Miller, Douglas Miller, Jerry Chrisp, Timothy Gordon, Jeffrey Tapp, Marshall Sanders, Robert Tapp, Terry Temple, David Bale, Ronald Sineni, Jr. and Billy Dimmitt.
Bertha is survived by her daughters and sons-in-law, Jacqueline and Curtis Miller of LaMesa, California; Carol and Jerry Chrisp of Sargent; La Vema Kay and Robert Tapp of Lewellen; eight grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Paul; her parents; four sisters; and nine brothers.
Holechek Funeral Home in Oshkosh was in charge of arrangements.
Paul Benzen (1909 - 1984)
Ash Hollow Cemetery
Plot: Block 10, Lot 31
Created by: Brian Tingley
Record added: Nov 11, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 31311106