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Mildred Marie Bender

November 4, 1930 May 17, 2010
Mildred Marie Bender
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Obituary for Mildred Marie Bender

Mildred M. Bender of Brighton age 79, died May 17, 2010 in Ann Arbor.

Mildred Marie Bender was born in Charlotte, Michigan on November 4, 1930 to James and Marie Ripley. She was the second of three children, born just over a year after her older brother Wendell, with younger brother Randy following several years later.
Millie grew up in Charlotte on the family�s sprawling farm where her love of the outdoors and animals began early in her life. She often told stories about her many childhood pets, including dogs, cats and a raccoon.
In 1950, Millie began nursing school at Foote Hospital in Jackson, Michigan where she made several lifelong friends while earning her nursing degree. In 1952, she received her Practical Nursing License and moved to Traverse City.
Millie was always a caregiver at heart and found nursing to be very rewarding. One patient under Millie�s expert care, Paul Bender, would have a successful recovery and later become her husband. They were married on December 11, 1955 and moved into a modest trailer home next to the farm where she grew up. During their 30-year marriage they bought two homes together, their first in Grand Rapids shortly after their wedding, and their second in 1965 in Brighton, where they raised four children until Paul�s death in 1986.
Paul worked on the Great Lakes ore freighters as a Chief Engineer Officer with Hannah Mining Company. Because his work obligations kept him away from home several months out of the year, much of the child rearing fell to Millie with limited support, since the house in Brighton was one of the first in the new neighborhood. Millie raised her children and ran her home with great strength, dedication and resourcefulness.
Many of the family�s best memories were of trips in a 24-foot Winnebago motor home � often with Millie behind the wheel. Another example of Millie�s tenacity was an adventure she had while visiting Paul on one of the ships that he sailed. When she arrived at the dock, there was no one to greet her, so she climbed a 3-story ladder at the back of the ship to reach the deck. As she climbed the ladder, it began to swing away from the ship and then back again, banging into the side of the boat. She continued on and when she reached the deck, a hand reached out to help her over the railing. Later that night, in the dining hall, the ship�s crew stood, and raised their glasses. A sailor gave a toast, �to a lady who really wanted to see her man!�
In the 1970s, Millie opened up her home and heart to young families and began providing full time child-care, continuing late into her 60s. Referred to as Aunty Mil by her little ones, she cared for dozens of children over the years and is fondly remembered by many of the families and the children that have still kept in touch long after they grew up and went off on their own.
Mildred was a longtime member of First Presbyterian Church of Brighton, and was actively involved in the church choir and the Stephens Ministry. She was passionate about taking part in many church activities and groups including creating a small courtyard garden and assisting with the Church�s charitable work.
Mildred is survived by her loving children David (Daniel Fiset) Bender, Susan (fianc� Richard Schuman) Bender, Kaydawn (Glenn) Booth, Nancy Bender; ?Grandchildren Joshua, Lily, Chrissy, Nickie, Curtis; brother Randy Ripley; sister-in-law Shirley Ripley, also many nieces, nephews and dear friends.

Memorial contributions encouraged to First Presbyterian Church of Brighton.

Funeral from First Presbyterian Church of Brighton, 300 E. Grand River Ave, Brighton, Saturday, May 22, 10 AM with gathering beginning after 9 AM. Pastor Dan Michalek officiating. Burial Maple Hill Cemetery, Charlotte, Michigan. Friends may visit Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 600 E. Main St., Brighton, Friday 3-9 PM.

For further information please phone Lynch & Sons at 810.229.2905.


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