Mrs. Marie Chapman Benson, a resident of Geneva, died Friday, October 26, in Wiregrass Nursing Home. She was 98. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, October 30, 2007, at the First United Methodist Church in Geneva with Rev. Roy Rogers and Chaplain John W. Brinsfield officiating. Burial will follow in Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the First United Methodist Church from 12:30 p.m. until funeral time on Tuesday. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church Building Fund, P. O. Box 517, Geneva, AL 36340 or to the Geneva High School Scholarship Fund, in care of Martha Helms at the Citizens Bank, Geneva, AL 36340; or to Youth With A Mission, Strategic Frontiers, P. O. Box 60579, Colorado Springs, CO 80960. Mrs. Benson was born June 1, 1909. She was the daughter of Charles Daniel and Lollie (Pilley) Chapman. After Lollies death, she later became the step-daughter of Allie Mae Sessions Chapman. She graduated from Geneva High School in 1926 and received a BS degree in Piano from Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL. She was certified in Public School Music and she took post graduate courses at the University of Virginia. She taught in the Geneva School System and was attendance officer of Geneva County Schools. Marie married Wilfred Tyner Benson of Opp, Al in 1933. She served as Vice President of Benson Wholesale Company, Vice President of Dixieland Food Stores in Geneva, was a partner of C.D. Chapman Co., and later owned Benson Investment Co. of Geneva. She served in the Geneva Garden Club and in the Athenaeum Federated Club. As President of the United Methodist Women of the Dothan District (1956-60), she organized District Prayer Groups and served as Secretary of Christian Personhood for the Alabama West Florida Conference (1962-64). She loved her church and was organist at First United Methodist Church in Geneva for many years. In 1968 she received the Huntingdon College Alumni Achievement award. She was chosen as Honorary Mother of the Year for the State of Alabama in 1971, and a Paul Harris Fellow in the Geneva Rotary Club in 1979. Mrs. Benson endowed the Chair of Christian Faith and Philosophy at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL in 1991. Some of her interesting avocations included: fighting a bull in Mexico at age 50, landing a 140 lb. sail fish at 60, flying in a helium balloon over Dothan at age 80, and going by chartered plane to Birmingham at age 92 to present a book on prayer to President George W. Bush. The word, "no", was not in her vocabulary, because she believed that she could do all things through her Savior, Jesus Christ. One of her favorite quotes was: "To fall in love with Jesus is the greatest of all romances. To seek Him is the greatest adventure To find Him is the greatest Achievement!" Contributions made by Marie C. Benson: The Fellowship Hall at Geneva First Methodist Church, The Gazebo at Fowler Park in memory of Wilfred Tyner Benson, The Chair of Christian Faith and Philosophy at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Al and Pianos for the Music Building at Huntington College, and a new ambulance to the Geneva Rescue Squad in 1985. Mrs. Benson was preceded in death by her parents, her beloved husband of 50 years, W. T. Benson; sister, Laurie Belle Chapman of Geneva; son-in-law, Arthur Abner Morris, Jr. of Dothan; nephew, Joseph Turner Benson, III; and sister-in-law, Emma Jo Benson of Opp. Mrs. Benson is survived by two daughters, Laurie Lynn Benson Morris of Dothan; Beverly Ree Benson of Pensacola, FL; one son, Joseph Daniel Benson (Sherry) of Montgomery; one foster son, Juan Manuel Hernandez of Miami, FL, and one brother-in-law, Joseph Turner Benson of Opp. She was loved and known as "Gran" to grandsons, Arthur Abner Morris III of Dothan; Charles Benson Morris of Asia; Joseph Carlisle Morris (Lisa) of Dothan; William Milton Morris of Madison, Miss.; John Michael Benson of Montgomery; and three great grandchildren, Bailey Caroline, Katherine Elizabeth and Michael Lebron. Her love encompassed many Benson, Chapman, Morris and Pilley extended family members. One very special friend and companion through the years was Spiritual Warrior, Laura Lynn Bullard. The family extends love and gratitude to all of Maries prayerful caregivers, Mildred Jordan, Inez Davis, Maple Pouncey Gentle, Jennifer Thomas, Mary Riley, Barbara Benroth, Janice Brock, Latisha McNeal, and Mary Parks; Dr. O.D. Mitchum, Hospice and employees at Westbrook Assisted Living Facility; and Regina Harrison. Marie Benson was an overcomer. She faced the death of her mother at age 6, the 1929 flood in Geneva, the 1933 depression, and World War II as an army wife with two small children. She learned to go through personal battles without hatred or bitterness, and taught her family to walk in love and victory in trying circumstances. Family members will be eternally grateful for her courageous leadership.
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