Frances Pedrick Benz

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Frances Pedrick Benz ISLE OF PALMS - Frances Pedrick Benz, known affectionately as Franny in childhood, Miss Fran to scores of young people, and Peck to her husband of 61 years, died peacefully on Friday, September 6, 2013, at her home on the Isle of Palms. Frances is survived by her husband, John Christopher Benz and her son, Gilbert Frederick Benz. Born on February 18, 1928, Frances was the only child of Gilbert S. Pedrick and Katherine Garis Pedrick of Trenton, New Jersey. Early on, Franny was passionately drawn to two lifelong interests: swimming and dance. Starting with her first "real job" as a Lifeguard in Trenton, Frances remained a committed swimming instructor and avid swimmer, up until the age of 84, when she was still doing 30 laps a day. Her true love, though, was dance. Her first formal training was in ballet, yet she was drawn to the energy and innovation of modern dance, subsequently pursuing a Bachelors in Dance from Miami University Ohio in 1949. After graduation, Frances headed to New York City in the early 1950s to study technique with modern dance pioneer, Martha Graham. At the same time, she completed a Masters in Education from New York University in 1951. An important hallmark of her time in New York was the burgeoning relationship and eventual marriage to John Christopher Benz, whom she had met earlier at Miami University. While still living in New York, Frances and John were blessed with their first child, Kurt Christian, in 1954. After a few years, a teaching job for John took the small family to Connecticut where their second son, Gilbert Frederick, was born in 1958. Frances successfully raised this young family while pursuing a long, productive career teaching dance and physical education at Rutgers University, Miami University of Ohio, East Tennessee State University, the University of South Carolina and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Wanting a career change, Frances retrained midlife. Staying true to her commitment to young people and education, she targeted a Certificate in Library Science from the University of South Carolina in 1971. As a Media Specialist, Miss Fran focused on primary education in Charleston, South Carolina, most notably as first Librarian at Belle Hall Elementary. She was also very active as a Storyteller with Bible School programs at the Church of the Holy Cross on Sullivan's Island. After retiring late in life, Miss Fran was instrumental in helping conceptualize and launch the Holy Cross Library. In many ways, this last project was iconic, since it combined her love of children with a passionate dedication to education. Often drawing on Puppets and Storytelling, Miss Fran sought to instill a love of books and a lifelong interest in learning through research and reading. As she once wrote: "It gives me goose bumps to see the signs of recognition, of knowing, of learning, on the beautiful faces of the future." She felt truly blessed to be a teacher, to "help light a light and keep it burning." She was the first in her family to go to university and the first to get an advanced degree. Long before any public discussion of women grappling with work-life balance, she successfully balanced not one but several careers, raised two boys and built a life-long love affair and working partnership with her husband and best friend. Her personal, spiritual and motivational impact is widespread and lasting. She is known as vibrant, vivacious, thoughtful, caring, generous and deeply spiritual. She is remembered as someone who loved people, saw only the best in others and wanted to help those around her develop the skills to achieve their full potential. She will be sadly missed by her Family, Friends and All who were blessed to have met and be touched by her. Franny, Miss Fran, Pecky Jane, Frances Now Dancing in Heaven "Run, Run, Leap"! A Memorial Service in Tribute to Frances Pedrick Benz will be held at the Church of Holy Cross on Sullivan's Island on Saturday, September 14 at 4PM. In lieu of flowers, the Family kindly requests that donations be sent to support the Library at the Church of the Holy Cross. Visit our guestbook at charleston

Published in Charleston Post & Courier on Sept. 12, 2013
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