The funeral for Bernice Benda will be 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, at the United Methodist Church in Britton. The Rev. Nancy Manning will officiate. Burial will be in the Britton Cemetery.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Price Funeral Chapel of Britton.
Bernice Irene (Bilyeu) Benda was born Nov. 18, 1906, on the John Bramer farm six miles east and six miles north of Britton to Jackson and Willemina (Sorg) Bilyeu. She was the fifth of 11 children born to this union. At the age of 5, she went with her Aunt Grace (Bilyeu) Connaughton to her grandparents' house near Lead Hill, Ark. Bernice often spoke of the wonderful fruit grown there, but she disliked the snakes. She returned home a year later to attend school at Pleasant Valley School No. 1 and finished the eighth grade in 1921.
There were fun times growing up; playing ball and riding horseback with brothers and cousins, but there were chores, too: carrying in water, churning butter, cleaning, taking care of poultry, helping with the harvest and preparing large meals. She was 13 years old when her 16-month-old baby brother died, apparently of a weak heart.
Bernice worked for the Burt Harrington family doing housework as a teenager. She loved music and would chord on the piano when neighborhood dances were held.
On Nov. 1, 1922, Bernice married Frank Benda. They lived five miles east of Britton on the farm owned by Joe and Aggie Benda, Frank's parents. Five children were born to this union: Charles, 1923-73; Edythe, 1924; Patricia, 1929-2012; Chan, 1930 and Gordon, 1937. Times were hard. Corn and wood were burned for heat, cooking and water carried in and out. A washing machine purchased in 1937 was a blessing. Frank died as the result of a car accident in 1950.
In September of 1951, Bernice married Amos Benda and moved to his farm where they lived until 1957, when they had a farm auction and sold the farm. They traveled and lived one summer in Edgemont, S.D. In 1958, they built a house in town.
Bernice worked in the Britton Hospital kitchen and laundry for 16 years, starting in the old hospital. In 1984, Amos died and Bernice moved first to the Leewod Apartments and later to the Continental Apartments, so she could be closer to church, post office and Fun After Fifty Center where she enjoyed working and continued her daily early morning walks.
In December of 2005, she moved back to the house she had first occupied as a bride and lived with Chan and Carol until moving to Wheatcrest Hills in May of 2010.
Bernice died Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, at Wheatcrest Hills in Britton at the age of 105 years, 9 months and 27 days.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Frank, her husband, Amos, her son, Charles and her daughter, Patricia Freeman; two grandsons, infant Roger Benda and Leo Benda; two great-grandsons, Kenneth LaBatte and Ronald Stevens; one great-granddaughter, Amber LaBatte; and one great-great-granddaughter, Sophia Erickson; four brothers: Ira, Lloyd, William and Joseph Bilyeu; six sisters: Celia Benda, Minnie Krause, Frances Kinsley, Grace Benda, Mary Bilyeu, Ione (Hofstad) Block; and two sons-in-law, Charles Weichselbaum and Ray Freeman.
She is survived by one daughter, Edythe Weichselbaum of Apple Valley, Minn,; two sons: Chan (Carol) Benda of Britton and Gordon (Mavis) Benda of Sioux Falls; a daughter-in-law, Vivian Woehl of Edgemont and many nieces and nephews. She has 20 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren and 22 great-great-grandchildren; and five great-great-stepgrandchildren.
An online guestbook and obituary are available at pricefuneralchapel.net.