William Harold Bender, 102, Bloomington, passed away Sunday, March 9, 2014.
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He was born Dec. 29, 1911, and grew up at the end of Bender Road east of Bloomington.
He was preceded in death by his parents, William Henry and Mary Frances Huntington Bender; all of his siblings, Verdia, Alta, Ethel, Dwight, J. Lester and Eugenel; a son, David Bender; and a grandson, Todd Bender.
On Jan. 1, 1938, Harold married Christine Crafton, who died in 1983. He often joked that he courted her for seven years before she agreed to marry him. Four years after her death, he married Mildred Schnabel on Dec. 6, 1987. She preceded him in death July 12, 2002, having been lovingly cared for in her illness by Lejla Vukadinovic.
Harold is survived by two of his three sons, John (Pat Figg) and Paul (Sandy); grandsons, Mark and Scott Bender; a granddaughter, Kim (Neil) Tews; a great-grandson, Jack Bender Tews; and grandchildren Carrie and Brian Bender and their families.
Harold graduated from Bloomington High School in 1930. He then attended Nebraska State Teachers' College for two years and later Indiana University. In 1937, he accepted his first regular job with Wegmiller Lumber Co., a predecessor to Bender Lumber Co.
Harold Bender and his son John purchased Wegmiller Lumber Co. in 1962, later renaming it Bender Lumber Co. Harold was proud to say that by the time he retired in 1979, all three of his sons were actively involved in the business.
A Gideon, Harold was always active in his church and was a member of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship. He had served as a board member of the First Assemblies of God church for more than 50 years.
During his career at Weg-miller-Bender Lumber, he was not only the manager but also the designer. He worked closely with his home builder customers to help them with their custom and speculative house building. He also designed homes for all three of his children.
Harold and Christine encouraged learning through example. At a time when the public library remained open on Saturday nights, the family made the weekly evening entertainment trip to the library, spending hours exploring and reading.
As a young man, Harold raised chickens commercially, making the weekly trek into Bloomington to sell the eggs. He told numerous long and exciting stories of his chicken- and egg-selling adventures. In addition to being a beekeeper for more than
70 years, he was an organic gardener who maintained a large garden until age 96.
Harold was a founder of the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, a former board member of the local Red Cross and a volunteer in the jail ministry. In his much younger retirement days, he delivered Meals on Wheels.
Remaining positive and a storyteller until the end of his life, we know that "Pop" will bring numerous interesting stories to his heavenly family.
Deep thanks go to Patty Moore and her team of angels who kept Harold comfortable and safe. Thank you, Dr. Rose for visiting Harold when he was no longer able to get out of the car. The family owes a debt of gratitude to all the amazing members of the Hospice team, in particular his angel, Nurse Cheryl, who visited Harold three times a week and stayed with him and the family as long as needed. Thanks also to the management and staff of Redbud Residence.
A funeral service will be conducted at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at The Funeral Chapel of Powell and Deckard, 3000 E. Third St., Bloomington, with David Wigington officiating. Burial will follow at Clear Creek Cemetery.
Visitation will be 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and from 9:30 a.m. until time of service Thursday at the funeral home.
Memorial donations may be made to IU Health Hospice, 601 W. Second St., Bloomington, IN 47402, or to the Gideon Society.
He lived God's story every day in every way. May he rest in peace.
Memories of Harold and condolences may be shared online at www.pdcfuneralchapel.com.
Published in Tribune from Mar. 10 to Mar. 18, 2014