Mary Elizabeth Bender

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Corrected Service Date for: MARY ELIZABETH BENDER 6/24/1919 - 2/24/2013 Mary, 93, passed peacefully February 24th in the presence of her beloved husband of 66 years, Fred. She is survived by daughters, Becky Dickens in Santa Fe, and Sarah Arvin and husband Dan in Denver; three grandchildren: Elizabeth Dickens and Ben and Alexandra Arvin; and by her brother, Jim Millard and family in California. She is predeceased by Becky's daughter, Gretchen. Mary was born in Long Beach, California in 1919, a Navy man's daughter. She grew up and was schooled at his various post locations in Guam, Alabama and California. Vivid in Mary's memory were her two years at age six to eight in Guam and the R&R trip to the Philippines, Japan and China her father was granted when reassigned to California. In revolution-ravaged China at age eight, she traveled to the Great Wall on her own in a box-car. Mary graduated from the University of California in Berkeley in 1940 with French and Spanish teaching credentials and taught in California high schools. She left teaching in 1944 to accept a war-time job as secretary in the U.C. Radiation Laboratory. She was assigned with a team of U.C. scientist to the Manhattan Project uranium enrichment facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. There she acquired what was to be a life interest in International folk dancing. After the bombs were dropped, she returned to Berkeley and became the personal secretary of Glenn Seaborg, director of the Radiation Lab and Nobel laureate, who later chaired the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in Washington. Mary met Fred, a Metallurgical Engineer, at an International folk dance class at U.C. They married in 1946, and lived in Fred's mining related job locations in Tucson, Arizona and Colorado. In Colorado they lived at the 11,300 foot elevation Climax Molybdenum mine, in nearby Leadville and then Golden. They moved to Santa Fe in 1986 after Fred retired, and their passion for folk dancing found a home with the Santa Fe International Folk Dancers. Folk dancing and folk culture became the basis for many years of fascinating travel to the Balkans, Turkey, Europe, Japan and China. Mary was a pianist, weaver, expert seamstress and thespian. She acted in children's and community theater in Golden and Leadville. In Golden she served four years on the city Planning Commission. A Memorial Celebration of her life will be held at the Odd Fellows Hall, 1125 Cerrillos, March 16th at 2 p.m. Donations may be made to the Presbyterian Medical Services Foundation, Santa Fe Hospice Program, PO Box 2267, Santa Fe, NM 87504.
Published in Santa Fe New Mexican on Jan. 1, 1900