Yesterday my sweet and spunky Grandma Bennett passed away. I could say a million things about her and have already told you about her awhile ago in this post. I’ll be spending some time with family the next couple of days remembering her fondly and laughing about all she had to put up with. You will be missed greatly Grandma but thank you for showing me that a woman can be southern and gentle, polite but tactful, and full of moxy all at once.
Here is her obituary that my uncle wrote and I think it memorializes her pretty dang well.
Lillian Joyner ‘Joy’ Bennett
Winston Salem – Lillian Joyner “Joy” Bennett, born September 9, 1923 passed away in her Pfafftown, North Carolina home on March 25, 2012
Joy was the eldest daughter of Edward Graham Flanagan and Lillian Joyner Flanagan of Greenville, NC; she has a brother Graham Flanagan Jr. of Fort Myers, Florida and sisters Terry Flanagan Wolverton of Raleigh, NC and Patsy Flanagan Wilkerson (deceased) and the wife of Bert Lester Bennett Jr.
Upon graduating from Greenville’s Rose High School, Salem College, and East Carolina University, Joy left for New York City to begin her career as a stewardess for Pan American Airlines where she worked on the “clippers” flying between New York, London, France, Prague and South Africa. After her years in New York City, Joy was ‘encouraged’ by her parents and close friends to return home to pursue a courtship with Bert Lester Bennett Jr. , whom had begun work in Greenville with Quality Oil Company. Joy and Bert were married on April 29, 1949, beginning a devoted partnership lasting 63 wonderful years with their bond being broken only by her passing.
After moving to Winston Salem, NC, Joy took on the primary role that in many ways defined whom she was. Joy gave birth to eight children (four boys, four girls) beginning with her first son Bert III on February 5, 1951 then continuing with Graham, Joy, John, Louise, Terry, Ann and finally Jimmy on December 18, 1964. Because Joy was a mother whom frequently fostered her children’s independence, delivering eight children proved the easiest part of motherhood. Where managing eight “self-determined” teenagers might prove the downfall for most, Joy remained steady at her helm, rarely faltering and never giving up. Her reservoir of energy proved infinite, continually called on by endless school trips, afternoon sports events, doctors appointments and numerous emergency room visits. As the mother of so many strong-willed children there will be few who will ever match Joy for her constant patience, unconditional love, and adventurous spirit. Even after her longest days she always reserved time for tickling her children’s sixteen little feet. On the day that she passed Joy had successfully nurtured her eight children through a combined 418 years of life.
Joy’s most lasting legacy will be the large family she leaves behind to carry on her love for life. Her legacies include seven living children (daughter Joy preceded her in death) her children’s six spouses; Beth Bennett Townsend, Janice Bowman Bennett, Jeanne Raibaldi Bennett, Steve Allen, Wesley Phillips and Marianne Grindon Bennett. The legacy continues with her seventeen grandchildren and their spouses; Bert “Cort” and Lindsey Bennett, Taylor Bennett, Hunter and Mary Bennett, Spencer Bennett, Steve and Lynh Bennett, Martha and Sam Metlzer, Graham and Nomi Pritz-Bennett, Lilly Bennett, Johnny Bennett, Jacob Vares, Justice Vares, Luke Vares, Conner Bennett, Parker Bennett, Claire Bennett, Meg Bennett, James Bennett and finally Joy’s first great-grandchild, Sam “Bud” Metzler. For reasons of brevity not recognized are the hundreds of “pets” that spent time in Joy’s care, including innumerable dogs, cats, horses, occasional pigs, goats, and an array of other barnyard guests.
Even though kept busy raising her many children, Joy proved herself skilled in many arenas outside the household. She was proficient at horseback riding, golf, skeet shooting, tennis and riding the oceans waves with her kids. Joy was an avid and experienced bridge player having regular games with friends. She always enjoyed continual learning and after raising her children became certified to teach the “Great Books” at Summit School. In her “spare time” Joy served on and led numerous community organizations including The Junior League, Democratic Women, The Garden Club, The Book Club, SECCA, The Winston Salem Little Theater and more. Though a product of the “old school” reflected most in her never-ending attention to correct manners and proper diction, Joy always remained unconventional in her spirit. From youth through her final years she constantly challenged all around her to imaginative thought, bringing many smiles and laughs to those in her company.
Where she enjoyed so many of life’s offerings, Joy certainly would put traveling with her daughter and daughters-in-law among the things she loved most. From the time they were young adults Joy arranged for her four daughters (later to include daughters-in-law), to accompany her on many wonderful trips to destinations near and far. These “girls trips” were just one of Joy’s ways of giving, sharing and keeping her daughters close.
Lillian Joyner “Joy” Bennett lived her 88 years of life completely. She gave so much to so many, creating a foundation of love and respect for her family to continue to give. She will be remembered often and to many as a very special friend, to her husband as a forever loving and adoring companion and to her many children as just the best mother ever!
The family will host a reception to honor the life of Lillian Flanagan “Joy” Bennett on Wednesday evening, 5PM at Old Town Country Club, Winston Salem with a memorial tribute to follow. In lieu of flowers gifts may be made to Hospice & Palliative Care Center, 101 Hospice Lane, Winston-Salem, NC 27103