Carol Jean Bender, age 85, peacefully passed away Feb. 2, 2020 at the Eckstein Hospice House in Scottsdale. She was born on Oct. 6, 1934 in Paynesville, Minn. to John and Vina Landgraf.
Carol was a warm, compassionate, proud, and vibrant woman who had a passion for life.
After her high school graduation, she moved to Minneapolis, Minn. to attend secretarial school. While working at Ford Tractor Regional Office her best friend set her up on a blind date. Even though her first impression of the “big city boy” from Philadelphia, Pa. was not her type, Don kept pursuing her. Three months later she married the love of her life on Jan. 21, 1956.
She was a dedicated wife, mother of four children, grandma and great grandma foremost. She embraced every moment of making the house a home, and she had many homes as they moved often for Don’s career.
Carol had a love for fashion and shopping, which led to her becoming a manager in a fine woman’s clothing store in Minnesota.
In 1975, Carol and Don moved the family to Brookings, S.D. to open a small injection molding company. Falcon Plastics grew into a third generation family business that now has five plants and is in two countries.
Carol put the “fun” in our lives, as she has always enjoyed being busy. She and Don took dance lessons at the Fred Astaire Studio of Dance, card/bowling/golf leagues, Boy Scout den mother and Girl Scout troop leader, church choir member, Room Mother for each child’s classes, Sister of PEO Chapter O, and House Advisor and leader of the alumni Women for Chi-Omega, family travel planner, hostess for pool parties, bridge groups, luncheons, and each Sunday, family fun day gatherings.
Carol loved being a grandma and great grandma. She would take the granddaughters school shopping each year for a “special outfit and fancy luncheon.” She would have “Etiquette and Manner Lesson” parties at their house for all the grandkids. Each summer Carol and Don would bring the grandchildren down, two or three at a time, to Arizona to spend special time with them. She knew how to keep the grandkids interested in coming out to their house in their teen years. They needed “all” the toys at the lake, so the kids would happily go and would bring their friends, too.
Carol always enjoyed traveling! During the days they couldn’t afford to go far, we had the “Big Orange Tent" that drew rain from the skies every time that it came out! They rented a pop-up camper when we went to Disney World. She and Dad traveled all of the states in the United States including Hawaii and Alaska, vacations in Australia, Europe, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Caribbean, Canada and Mexico. She loved cruises and resorts alike. It didn’t matter to her if they traveled by car, boat, plane or train.
Carol has many long-lasting friendships that she absolutely treasured.
She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease over 20 years ago. With her courage, strength, pride and determination she continued to live life to the fullest and not let it slow her down.
Carol is survived by her children, Randy (LaDonna) Bender, Spearfish, S.D., Jay (Adrienne McEntee) Bender, Brookings, S.D., Guy (Angie Bahr) Bender, Brookings, S.D., Deani (Tim Begeman) Riedesel, Wentworth, S.D. Ten Grandchildren, Alyssa (James), Kailah (Brian), Megan (Trevor), Myles (Sarah), Kyle (Natalie), Jenn (Craig), Bryn (Jon), Mason, Quinn, and Myranda; and seven great grandchildren.
She was preceded in death a month ago by her loving husband of 64 years, Don Bender, her parents, and all six of her siblings.
Messinger Funeral Home in Fountain Hills is in charge of her funeral arrangements.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at The Fountains United Methodist Church on Friday, Feb. 14, at 10 a.m. (Livestreaming available at livestream.com/thefountainsumc.)
Brookings, S.D. a Celebration of Life service will be held for Don and Carol Bender at the Brookings, United Methodist Church on Friday, March 6, 2020 at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to: Teen Challenge of the Dakotas, Brookings, S.D.; The Fountains United Methodist Church, Fountain Hills, Ariz.; The SDSU Foundation Don & Carol Bender Scholarship Fund; Eckstein Hospice House Scottsdale, Ariz.