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Thomas R. Bender Sr., 86, owned garden center

Thomas Randolph Bender Sr., a longtime Severna Park resident who owned a nursery, died July 14 of cancer at Sunrise Assisted Living Center in Severna Park. He was 86.

Born and raised in Cumberland, Mr. Bender earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture from the University of Maryland. He opened Bender Nursery in 1962 and ran the Severna Park garden center for 25 years. Azaleas were among his favorite plants.

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Mr. Bender served in the Army from 1940 to 1945 in the coastal artillery unit at Fort Monroe in Newport News, Va. The unit was responsible for protecting Hampton Roads and its naval base from possible attack by enemy submarines during World War II.

Mr. Bender was an active member of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Severna Park, where he was a pastoral home visitor and an usher. He also was a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Kiwanis Club and the Elks.

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A funeral Mass was offered Thursday at the church.

He is survived by his wife of 47 years, the former Erma L. Harshbarger; a son, Thomas R. Bender Jr. of Arlington, Va.; a daughter, Mary Ellen Bender of Arnold; two sisters, Ethel McLean of Arnold and Eleanor Wilson of Wheaton; and two grandchildren.


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