Alice Leah Kelley Benes had a beautiful and peaceful transition from the physical world to join her departed loved ones and friends on March 20, 2019, at 2:18 a.m., surrounded by family at her home northwest of Morrison in Pawnee county. She was a century lustrum (105 years), 2 months and 20 days old at the time of her death. She chose to leave on the first day of spring that occurred with a Super Full Moon, an extremely rare occurrence, fitting for a very rare and special mother and grandmother.
Her funeral was held on Tuesday, April 26, 2019, at 3p.m. at the Morrison Christian Church with internment at the Morrison Cemetery. Pallbearers were Kim Adams, Brent Adams, Shane Benes, Travis Benes, Kiley Benes and Peter Benes.
Alice was born at her parents’ home on December 5, 1913, in Skedee, Oklahoma. Her father was Elisha Warren Kelley (who had the first John Deere dealership in the Pawnee area) and Mary Ellen Endicott. Her parents married on April 21, 1901. The couple had 11 children: two died in child birth, leaving 5 sons and 4 daughters, with Alice being the youngest daughter. The Kelley children were Cesil, born 1902; Hazel, born 1904; Edna, born 1907; Wallace (Bill), born 1908; Floyd, born 1911; Thelma, born 1912; Alice, born 1913; Elisha Warren (Boots), 1916; and Kenneth born 1918.
Alice went to Buena Vista school in Skedee for the first 8 grades, then graduated from Pawnee High School in 1931. She said at an early age she wanted to teach school, get married and raise 6 kids. After high school, she attended Central State Teacher College (now University of Central Oklahoma) in Edmond, graduated in 1933, then taught the first 8 grades at a one room school house. When asked how did she teach 8 grades all at once, she replied, “The older ones would teach the younger ones, and I would teach the older ones and check on them all.”
Because she was on a monthly salary, she could afford to buy a Model T Ford car although she never learned to drive. She figured that one of her 5 brothers could drive her from Skedee to Masham and she would not have to walk to teach school or to attend special events. However, her brothers had women they wanted to court and the car was not always available, so she ended up walking to school many times.
Alice was in charge of a surprise birthday party for her best friend who was dating Edward Benes. Edward was told to take his girlfriend into Pawnee to give Alice and her friends time to arrive at the rural home and prepare a surprise birthday party. Edward, instead of taking his girlfriend to the soda fountain, or stalling for 20 minutes or so, he took her to the Buffalo Theatre to watch a movie. They arrived back at the farm way too late for the party, and all of the guests had left except for Alice. The birthday girl got so mad at Edward she broke up with him then and there. Edward asked Alice out the very next week.
After dating about a year, Alice married Edward Altman Benes on Nov 23, 1938, at the Christian Church parsonage in Pawnee, Oklahoma, witnessed by brother Floyd and his wife Clella. They moved into the home northwest of Morrison where she lived the rest of her days. They started their family in 1939 with the birth of Barbara Ellen; followed by Edward junior in 1942; Bonnie, in 1943; Kelley, in 1947, and the twins Charles and Clarance, born in 1950, with Clarance being the youngest by 15 minutes.
Alice was known for her cooking, especially made-from-scratch chicken noodles, turkey and dressing, and the sheer volume of food she could prepare for field hands and family. She was in charge of large family holiday dinners until she was 93 years old. “Nobody ever went hungry around here except Clarance, but that was only because you couldn't fill him up.” Many food dishes were prepared from fresh vegetables from one of two large gardens she had in her younger years, plus fresh eggs, and chickens and pork raised and butchered on the farm. She canned many quarts of vegetables every year and made butter and ice cream from the milk coming from the hand-milked cows at the farm. She loved to fish with a cane pole in one of the farm ponds and would cook whatever she caught. Over the years she also prepared possum, rabbit, squirrel, quail, wild turkey, armadillo, deer, duck, and at least one rattlesnake. If you would clean it, she would cook it.
Alice was very active in women’s organizations and lodge meetings, plus she played the piano at the Morrison Christian Church. She also wrote the Morrison News for the Pawnee Chief newspaper for decades. She loved to read and do crossword puzzles up to the final days of her life. She made a great number of quilts, most of which were given away to family and friends. In recent years she became popular on FaceBook with her witty remarks to her youngest son Clarance, posted on his FaceBook page. Favorites included a couple of music videos featuring Ma singing On Top of Ole Smokey.
Loved by all that met her, Alice lived a life that was a Praise and a Worship of the Lord; for her life demonstrated the Grace and Glory of God. Her legacy will be to inspire others to simply love their neighbors as they love themselves.
She was preceded in death by her husband Edward A. Benes, who died in 1997 at the age of 93 after 58 years of marriage; both of her parents and all of her brothers and sisters. She is survived at the home by her daughter Bonnie Ruth Benes and son Clarance Henri Benes; her other children: Kelley Joe Benes of Douglas, Oklahoma; Edward Altman Benes and Charles Hugh Benes, both of Morrison; Barbara Ellen (Benes) Adams of Stillwater, Oklahoma; 11 grandchildren: Janet Benes, Patti (Benes) Swart, Cathy Benes, Kim Adams, Brent Adams, Amy Benes, Tina (Benes) Davis, Travis Benes, Kiley Benes. Peter Benes, and Angela Davis, Violet Adams; 20 great grandchildren: Rachel Benes, Morgan Benes, Alec Benes, Timothy Benes, Claire Davis, Austin Davis, Grace Davis, Zane Benes, Shane Benes, Shelby Turner, Allison Swart, Landon Swart, Kaitlyn Helm, Ryan Helm, MacKenzie Benes, Chase Benes, Elizabeth (Libbie) Scoles, Amber Adams, Violet Adams: 7 great great-grandchildren: Kaid Benes, Kein Benes, Kavin Benes, Liam Nevarez, Carter Pratt-Miller, Shawn Pratt-Miller, Christine Meeks.
Those wishing to make a donation in Alice's memory can send it to the Morrison Christian Church, 200 East A Street, Morrison, OK 73061. Friends and family may also leave a message on Poteet Funeral Home web page https://www.poteetfuneralhome.com/obituaries