Cope Kirtland Chapel
458 County Road 6100
Kirtland, NM 87417
(505) 598-9636
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Kenneth Lee Benally

1917 - 2012
Kenneth Lee Benally Obituary
Kenneth Lee Benally
Oct. 12, 1917 - Jan. 13, 2012

Kenneth Lee Benally, 92, of Waterflow, passed from this life on Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, in Farmington. He was born Oct. 12, 1917, to Lee and Virginia Tome. He was born for Tachii'nii and born to Tabaahi.
Mr. Benally was the first in his family to attend school. He attended Albuquerque Indian School and graduated from Shiprock Agriculture High School as Class President in 1940.
He showed an early propensity for community involvement. He and his 11th grade classmates initiated action for a bridge at Shiprock. Their effort culminated in Gov. Clyde Tingley coming to Shiprock to dedicate the bridge.
In January 1941, Mr. Benally was drafted into the U.S. Army. He participated in the beach landings in Sicily (January 1943), Salerno, Italy (September 1943), Anzio, Italy (January 1944) and Nice, France (August 1944).
In October 1944, he was captured by the Germans and held in Stalag XIIA near Nimburg, Germany, and then in Stalag IIIC.
While on a forced march to Berlin, Russian troops attacked both the Germans and their allied prisoners. Kenneth and 12 other POWs took advantage of the confusion and escaped.
Forming the ""Lucky 13,"" they walked across Poland and finally into Odessa, Russia, where they boarded a ship for home in March 1945. Mr. Benally came home to his loving family, wife, Ielene, and a grateful nation.
Between June and August 1947, Mr. Benally helped establish the Navajo Tribal office in Shiprock out of Chairman Sam Ahkeah's trunk!
In 1959, he graduated from the University of New Mexico. He worked at the Albuquerque Indian School and taught at Toadlena Boarding School. He was the Supervisor of Guidance at Nenahnezad Boarding School, and was School Administrator for 27 years. In August 1987, he retired.
He was involved in many aspects of education. He served on the San Juan College Board from 1971 to 1981, and on the Central Consolidated School District Board from 1964 to 1981.
After 42 years of public service, he retired to a life of caring for his livestock, his farm and home garden and completing a daily journal.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ielene Scott Benally, his parents, Lee Tome and Virginia Setah Tome; brothers, Alfred Tome, Morris Tome, Deswood Tome, Marshall Tome and Nelson Tome; sisters, Nezbah Tome and Alice Begay Yal Ha Yah; and one grandchild.
He is survived by his daughters, April (Charles) Lanza, Dezbah (Mel) Benally-Sharp and Mimi Benally; brother, Harry Tome; four grandchildren; and ten great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. today Jan. 16, at Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Shiprock, with Pastor Louis Tutt officiating.
Following the service, interment will be at Shiprock Veterans Cemetery.
Following interment, there will be a reception at Mesa Elementary School in Shiprock.
Pallbearers are J.C. Begay, Bruce Manygoats, Deswood Tome, Nelson Tome, Mel Sharp and Graham Beyale.
Arrangements are with Cope Memorial Kirtland Chapel, 458 County Road 6100, 505-598-9636.
Published in Farmington Daily Times from Jan. 15 to Jan. 16, 2012
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