Eunice Robinson Benckenstein
Eunice Robinson Benckenstein died peacefully in her sleep at her home on May 4, 2008. She lived for 99 years and 11 months..
Funeral services will be 11:00 a.m., Thursday, May 8, 2008, in the main sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church of Orange. Reverend Rob Fisher will officiate. Burial will be on Friday alongside her parents’ graves in Wetumka Cemetery in Wetumka, OK.
Visitation will be 6:00-8:00 p.m., Wednesday at Claybar Funeral Home in Orange.
Eunice was born June 6, 1908, in Thomas, Custer County, Oklahoma to Walter Sloan Robinson and Annie Florence Williams Robinson. She was the third of their five children. At age 5, she and her family moved to Wetumka, Hughes County, Oklahoma where her father was sent to manage a lumberyard. Eunice grew up in Wetumka, graduating from Wetumka High School in 1926. She had been both valedictorian of her eighth grade class and her senior class, along with being senior class president and president of the high school international club. She then attended the College of Industrial Arts (today Texas Woman’s University) in Denton, TX and earned a Bachelors degree in Business Administration in three years. Upon graduation, she went straight to work. After a hoped-for teaching position in Marshall, TX failed to materialize, she quickly accepted a position as a teacher of commercial courses with Orange High School in the Fall of 1929. She remained as a teacher at the high school for eight years and was one of the founding members of the Theta Omega chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society for women educators.
In 1938, she left teaching and began employment as a secretary and accountant of Vinton Petroleum Company, whose headquarters were located among the business offices of H.J.L. Stark. On October 24, 1943, she married Charles H. Benckenstein, a widower, and a founder of the Vinton Petroleum Company.
Their happy years together were cut short by his death on August 6, 1946. Eunice Benckenstein went on working for the Vinton Petroleum Company until 1965 and was a Director in the last years of the company. Following her husband’s death, she devoted a great deal of personal time in service to the Orange community. Always vitally interested in education, she was a member of the Board of Trustees, Orange Independent School District from 1953 to 1961. She served 15 years on the Board of Directors of Girls Haven of Orange and loaned her rural property known as Benckwood to the YMCA for summer camps for Orange youth.
Eunice brought her skills in accounting and organization to bear in many of her duties. She was one of the Founders and a Director of the Vidor State Bank from 1950 to 1960; First National City Bank of Orange, 1960-1990, and at Orange Savings Bank beginning in 1967. She chaired the budget committee and was a member of the board of the
Orange Area United Way. She served as Secretary and Treasurer of the Trustees of the First United Methodist Church of Orange for more than two decades. She continued her employment in the Stark offices and was the driving force in the process of the restoring of the W. H. Stark house in the 1980’s. She loved the Miriam Lutcher Stark contests on Reading and Declamation and attended these events even after she was well into her 90’s. She served as a Diretor/Officer of the Nelda C. and H.J.L. Stark Foundation Board from 1974-2006, then assumed director emeritus status.
Through the years she was recognized by the Orange community for her service, including the Pilot Club’s Woman of the Year Award in 1955, designation as a life member of the YMCA in 1972, and being named Citizen of the Year by the Orange Chamber of Commerce in 1974. A tree dedicated to her grows on the grounds of the Orange Heritage House.
An inveterate world traveler with an interest in cultures around the globe, she traveled in over 50 countries on six continents, read widely, and loved every kind of food. She cared for family members, former employees, and friends during long illnesses and until their last days. Never one to be idle, if she had a few minutes to spare, she would play a hand of solitaire, work a crossword puzzle, or run outside to fill the bird feeders. No hour of a day went by without a kind word or deed for others. She was an inspiration to all who knew her.
Eunice Benckenstein, known as “Miz B”, leaves all those who mourn her loss with a legacy of unconditional loyalty to family and friends, kindness and generosity, a strong work ethic, an optimistic outlook, a love of all things in nature, and an abiding faith in God.
She is survived by nieces: Eunice Robinson Aragon (Dr. Modesto) Dallas, TX and Dr. Anita Cowan, Denton, TX; nephews: Dr. Walt Robinson(Patsy)Mesquite, TX and Parkes Robinson, Dallas, TX; grandsons, Ellis Benckenstein (Marsha) Sulphur, LA, Fred Benckenstein (Donatella),
Houston, TX, Len Benckenstein, Houston, TX, Stan “Pete” Benckenstein (Janet), Lufkin, TX, Stephen Benckenstein (Claire), Spring, TX, and granddaughter, Margaret Benckenstein of Beamont; three first cousins: R. A. Williams (Catherine), Garland, TX, Frank Williams, Chisholm, TX, Mary Frances Tillerson, Terrell, TX, and many others in descending generations.
A special thanks to Helen Platt, Ann Richard, and Lucille Morris for devotion and care, the wonderful staff and administrator of South East Texas Hospice, and physicians, Dr. Michael Amsted and Dr. Louis McIntire.
Pallbearers will be her nephews and grandsons.
In lieu of flowers, those who wish to pay tribute to Eunice Benckenstein are asked to consider a memorial donation to the First United Methodist Church of Orange, 502 6th St., Orange, TX, 77630, Southeast Texas Hospice, 912 W. Cherry Ave, Orange, TX, 77630, or the Golden Triangle Audubon Society, P. O. Box 1292, Nederland, TX, 77627.