Ethel M. Bender, age 101, of Brookfield, Wis., formerly of Keswick, died Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010, at Care-Age of Brookfield. Ethel was born Sept. 30, 1908, in Keswick, to John and Catherine (Dawson) Wright and graduated from Ottumwa Heights Academy and Ottumwa Heights Junior College. Before marriage she taught in St. Joseph’s High School at Neola for two years and then worked for nine years in Des Moines in the Iowa Bankers Association, becoming secretary to the superintendent of the Iowa State Banking Department.
On Oct. 2, 1937, she married Francis Bender in Oxford. The couple made their home in Keswick and enjoyed wintering in Florida until Francis’ death in 1995, when Ethel moved to Wisconsin. She was an active member of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, and in Keswick civic and community affairs. Ethel had a passion for Scrabble and continued playing until the time of her death. Survivors include four daughters: Joan Burke (Mike Lathrop) of Big Bend, Wis., Janice Bender of Des Moines, Elizabeth Bender of Milwaukee, and Rebecca Robbins of Salt Lake City, Utah; two sons: F. Eugene Bender (Mary) of Cedar Rapids, and Robert Bender (Joanne) of Wichita, Kan.; 13 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; and sister, Winifred Wright, Venice, Fla. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband Francis; brother Harold; and sisters Helen, Mary, Lucille and Geraldine.
Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a..m. Friday, Jan. 29, 2010, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Sigourney, with Father Charles Fladung officiating. Burial will be at St. Mary Cemetery in Sigourney. Visitation will be from 3-7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010, at Powell Funeral Home in Sigourney, where there will be a wake service at 6 p.m. Memorials may be made to the Hospice of Keokuk County or the Pleasant Grove Cemetery Association. Powell Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Sigourney is caring for Ethel and her family. Condolences may be e-mailed at www.powellfuneralhomes.com under obituaries.