Nancy Warner Benz, 86, of Lincoln
LINCOLN – Nancy Warner Benz, age 86, passed away peacefully at EastView in Middlebury on Nov. 17, 2020. She will be dearly missed by her large family and many friends.
Nancy Elaine Warner was born in Waterbury, Conn., on May 8, 1934, and was raised by her loving parents, Harriet and Oscar Warner in nearby Woodbury, Conn., along with her two younger sisters. She was valedictorian of her high school class and graduated from Middlebury College in 1956 with an A.B. in English Literature. Nancy continued her education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she received an Ed.M. in 1958.
After graduate school, Nancy taught elementary school for several years in the Boston area. It was during this time that she reconnected with Middlebury College classmate Mark Gilbert Benz. Nancy volunteered to type one of Mark’s MIT technical papers and a true lifelong partnership began. They were married on July 18, 1959. This past summer marked 61 years of a wonderful marriage.
Nancy and Mark raised their family of four children in Burnt Hills, N.Y., where they lived for 40 years. Nancy enjoyed being a full-time wife and mother while at the same time managing many leadership roles in school, scouting, community and church-related endeavors. Such roles included a long stint as Sunday School Superintendent, which began when her oldest child was a toddler and would not be left alone in the church nursery. Her Cadet Girl Scout troop worked for three years to plan and finance a trip to the Girl Scouts’ World Center in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She also served as board chairperson of Community Human Services, an agency focusing on the needs of children and families. In these community roles and many others she held over the years, Nancy used her skills and lifelong passion for education and helping people in all that she did.
With an empty nest in 1991, Nancy and Mark found, and began restoring, their farmhouse in Lincoln, Vt., where they moved full time in 2002. They created a new home base in Lincoln, a town that welcomed them nearly 30 years ago and where they developed many new friendships and community connections that have enriched their lives immeasurably. Undaunted by the many years of home restoration construction, Nancy regularly welcomed gatherings of family and friends, large and small, from near and far. Visiting Mark and Nancy was never an idle vacation, as there were always projects to participate in, food to be prepared, and hikes and rivers waiting to be explored before laying in the hammock or in front of the woodstove at the end of the day.
Nancy will be lovingly remembered for her ever-present warmth, kindness and sense of humor that stayed with her throughout her life, prevailing even over the challenges of Alzheimer’s in her last years. She was welcoming and gracious to all, finding a task for even the smallest visitors to make them feel that their participation was important and valued. Always with a twinkle in her eye and an encouraging word, she possessed the gift of listening in a way that conveyed that what you said mattered to her. Nancy’s playfulness, creativity and delight in the natural world were on full display through the famous treasure hunts she created for children visiting the farm. Each adventure always required a team effort, learning something new, collecting odd natural objects, and a delicious treat as a reward at the end. A life-long lover of chocolate and ice cream sundaes, her family will always remember her example of taking time to savor the little good things life brings your way.
Nancy is survived by her husband Mark, as well as her four children and their spouses: Jayne Benz Chipman (John) of Alameda, Calif.; Matthew Benz (Nancy Kelly) of Shrewsbury, Mass.; Eric Benz (Hannah) of Middlebury, Vt.; and Martha Benz Daigle (Christopher) of Hollis, N.H. Nancy also has 11 beloved grandchildren who were her pride and joy: Rory, Luke, Caroline, Maeve, Abigail, Samuel, Conrad, Caleb, Lucy, Duncan, and Sarah. She also leaves behind her sisters Anne Webb (David) of West Boylston, Mass.; and Margery Christie (Jim) of Watertown, Conn.; and her sister-in-law Marilou Harrison, of Denver Colo.
A memorial service will be held in Nancy’s honor this coming year in Lincoln, Vt., at a time when family and friends can gather to fully celebrate her life. Nancy’s family is forever grateful to the staff of EastView for their loving care of Nancy, and wonderful support of Mark and the entire family during Nancy’s stay with them.
Donations can be made in Nancy’s name to the Lincoln Library, 222 West River Road, Lincoln, VT 05443, or Project Independence, Elderly Services Inc., P.O. Box 581, Middlebury, VT 05753.◊
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