Corpus Christi, TX
July 7, 1932 - Dec. 31, 2018
Marilyn R. "Bam" Laughlin Benning, 86, passed away on Monday, December 31, 2018. Bam was born on July 7, 1932, to Robert and Kathleen Laughlin in Rushville, IN.
Bam was valedictorian of her high school and studied Fine Art at the University of Cincinnati before marrying the love of her life, Jim Benning. As she would regularly say, they were just "two crazy kids living, loving, and laughing their way through life." In their first 15 years of marriage, they lived in 10 different states and Mexico following Jim's career in the army and then with the space program.
Bam claimed to be a "behind the scenes" person. While she certainly never wanted the limelight, she was always the one who got things done. Regardless of where they lived, Bam was involved-especially when it benefitted her kids. She volunteered as PTA President, Boy Scout Den Mother, party planner extraordinaire, home room mother, and much more. You name it, she did it!
Once the Bennings landed in Corpus Christi in 1968, Bam reentered the workforce as one of the first female "draftsmen" and community liaisons at the NASA tracking station. She loved explaining the tracking station to student groups almost as much as she loved getting to work at the same place as Jim. She continued to be the planner and organizer for all the "splashdown" parties at the end of the space missions.
In 1971, Bam and Jim opened a small family business-a do-it-yourself picture framing shop called The Frame Up. Now, 48 years later, it is one of the largest, custom-framing enterprises in south Texas and is still family owned and operated. Day after day, you could find Bam there working diligently and helping customers create artwork for their walls. Even when she wasn't in the shop, she was thinking about the next project. That business was her passion and her purpose for nearly five decades, and it will remain her legacy.
Besides running a successful business, Bam was known throughout the community for her extraordinary leadership skills. Had she been born one generation later, she would have been the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She certainly rose to the occasion when she was named President of the Corpus Chapter of Executive Women International (EWI). She was always more than prepared and found great satisfaction in sharing new business concepts and motivational messages with the organization's members. She was also a diligent supporter of the Reading Rally for the Y Teens program for many years.
Bam was a lifelong learner and inspired many others to do the same. She regularly took professional development courses, as well as classes in art, Swedish massage, upholstery, leadership and self-improvement, just to name a few. At one point, she also earned her real estate license so she and Jim could own and manage a number of rental properties.
One of the greatest joys in Bam's life was the gift of grandchildren. She cherished spending time with them and always wanted to know about whatever they were doing. Being able to communicate with them regularly was her biggest incentive for learning how to send text messages. Her enormous love for each one of them was only matched by her pride in the wonderful people they were becoming.
Since Jim's death in 2011, Bam was blessed with the love and support of her church family at Centerpoint Chapel. She attended services faithfully and was proud to share details about the church's many outreach programs for children.
Bam will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by her countless friends and customers. Her passing leaves a big void in the hearts of her family. She is survived by her children Mike (Anne) Benning, Ami (Dan) Young, Andy (Debby) Benning, and Kathy (Tom) McClure; eight grandchildren; and five great grandchildren.
A celebration of her life will be held Saturday, January 26, at 2 p.m. at Centerpoint Chapel (South Shores Church: 4710 S Alameda; Corpus Christi, TX). In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to: Centerpoint Chapel Outreach (6730 Hunt Dr., CC, TX 78413); Y Teens (www:ywcacc.org); or the Art Center of Corpus Christi (www:artcentercc.org).
Published in Corpus-Christi Caller-Times from Jan. 17 to Jan. 19, 2019.