Lois Bennett

We gather this afternoon to mourn the loss and remember, celebrate, and give thanks for the life of Lois E. Bennett.

Our source of strength and comfort this day is found in the Lord.  The apostle Paul wrote,

I declare to you brothers that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, not does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I tell you a mystery” we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

David wrote these words of comfort,

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the quiet waters, he restores my soul.  He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil’ my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

As we face this time of loss, we grieve, but we do not grieve without hope.  Our hope is in the Lord.  Let’s turn to Him in prayer,

Our Father, we bow before you as the one who rules over all of life. We give you thanks this day for the life of Lois Bennett.  You have blessed and enriched us through her.  We ask you to help us as we remember and celebrate her life.  Bring us comfort and hope in our time of sadness.  Gives us the strength we need at this difficult time.  Help us to remember and to give thanks even in the midst of our sorrow.  We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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Lois E. Bennett was born January 25, 1932 in Lancaster, MO the daughter of Luel M and Lillian E. Smith Palmer.  She was a graduate of Terre Haute High School and the Burlington Beauty Academy.

Lois married the love of her life, Leland W. Bennett on October 6, 1951 in Burlington.  They were blessed with five children.

Lois was an outgoing person who worked as a beautician in LaHarpe and then later operated her own business, Lois’ Beauty Shop in Terre Haute.  She served as a 4-H leader from 1959-1978.  Her specialty was teaching cooking and sewing.  She enjoyed watching many of her 4-H members take their projects to state.  She also served as a Girl Scout leader.  She enjoyed doing genealogical work and did a lot of work on the Bennett family history.  Mrs. Bennett was a member of the Terre Haute United Methodist Church where she served as Treasurer for many years and also helped with the Annual Fish fry, Pancake dinners and always contributed cookies for Vacation Bible School.  Lois and Leland moved to Florida in 1984.

Lois died at 71 years old on Wednesday, April 9th 2003 at the South Florida Baptist Hospital in Plant City, FL. where she had been hospitalized for the last seven weeks.

  • She is survived by her husband, Leland
  • Three daughters: Linda Orth of Burlington, IA.; Gloria Harmony of Tampa, FL, and Brenda Collins of Valrico Florida
  • One son: Ronald Bennett of Terre Haute, Il.
  • Ten Grandchildren
  • Three brothers: Hollis Palmer of Burlington, Ia. and Harley Palmer and Boyd Palmer both of LaHarpe.

She was preceded in death by her son, Richard Bennett and her parents.

I did not have the pleasure to really know Lois Bennett but it sure sounds like I would have liked her.  As her family described her I couldn’t help but notice how much Lois seemed to be like her mother.

Lois was a woman who lived to serve. She would tell you that her life was really nothing special.  She would say there was nothing extraordinary about her.  But I have come to learn that most extraordinary people don’t realize how special they are.

Lois was a family person.  You would have to say she was a “hands on” mom.  She managed her household with skill.  She believed if you were going to do something you should do it correctly.  Lois wouldn’t serve a pie that didn’t have a homemade crust, and hers were always perfect.  She would never think about serving a big family meal that wasn’t fresh that day.  She made terrific rolls, pies, beef and noodles . . . well, everything she made was good.

Lois was an excellent seamstress. She made clothes for the kids and for their Barbie dolls.  You never had to worry about running out of anything at the Bennett home.  Lois had a wonderful ability to keep track of the inventory of everyone’s needed supplies.  When they were snowed in for four days one winter the family never ran out of anything!

Lois kept the family going.  She was a mother who maintained discipline with her children but she didn’t do it be force, she did it by her character.  She loved you and you knew it.  You knew what the rules were and if you broke them you knew that you had let her down.  She didn’t yell, she just continued to love you.  She expected you to give your best just like she gave to you.  If you came in late at night she wouldn’t scold but you could bet she would be vacuuming very early the next morning!

She was person who went the extra mile.  She would work all day to get a dress ready for a concert.  She’d spend her lunch hour having lunch with Ronnie. If one of the kids needed something all you would have to do is call and she would drop everything and make sure you had it.  She was always there when you needed her.

She was the perfect wife.  She managed the household so that Leland never had to worry about things. She loved and supported her man.

She was a woman who was always aware of the needs and wishes of others.   When she cooked a big family meal she would make several versions of the same dish to cater to the various tastes of her family.  When she made dessert for family gatherings she would make 6-7 pies of all different varieties to make sure she had everyone’s favorite.  She loved the big family dinners.  Sometimes at Thanksgiving there would be 50 people in the home.  Lois loved it.  She would start cooking the turkey the night before and would be up baking at 2:00 a.m.

Lois loved her grandchildren.  She made them their favorite foods and was always there to care for them.  When Evan was real sick Grandma took good care of him.  She would cook him anything he wanted and spend a lot of time rocking on Grandma’s lap.  Emily used to call Grandma and tell her about her day before she even told her mom!  Her grandchildren would have gladly traded a day or a summer to spend time with her.  When they were with Grandma they felt like they were kings and queens.  Lois Bennett had a way of making you feel valuable and special.

Lois was like this with everyone.  She was happy to take her mom into her home for five years when she needed help. While she was in the hospital feeling miserable she seemed to find joy in trying to brighten the day of the nurses and therapists around her.  When Lois served in 4H she believed in helping her students do things the right way.  She had wonderful patience in teaching others how to cook or sew.  She was a mentor to many through the years.

She was a beautician but I sense that she saw her position as more than simply “doing hair”.  She liked to talk to people.  She listened as they shared their problems.  She gave counsel when appropriate.  When she took care of their hair she saw it as a way of helping people feel good about themselves and life.  She was in business but her business was not to make money . . . it was to serve others.  She was always willing to do the hair for people who had died.  It was her way of making sure that they looked their best.

Lois loved life.  She was constantly taking pictures because she knew life was made up of special moments and wanted to save as many of those moments as possible.  She had an artist’s eye.

Lois Bennett was a woman who made a difference in the lives of those around her.  She was giver and not a taker.  Yet, she was no martyr.  She loved giving to others.  She was never happier than when she felt she had made someone’s day better.  I suspect she often sat back and just watched everyone at Thanksgiving or Christmas as they enjoyed the food she prepared.  Leland said it well, “She was an Angel”.  The words of Proverbs 31 are so appropriate for her, just as they were for her mom,

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She will not hinder him but help him all her life. She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant’s ship; she brings her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls….She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.  She watches for bargains; her lights burn late into the night.  Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. She has no fear of winter for her household because all of them have warm clothes. . . She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule when she gives instructions. She carefully watches all that goes on in her household and does not have to bear the consequences of laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:  “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.  Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. [Proverbs 31:10-31]

There aren’t many people like Lois Bennett.  We will miss her.

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The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians,

13 And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died.  [1 Thess. 4:12-14]

The people in Paul’s day were beginning to see their friends die and they wondered what happened to people who die.  Paul says they “go to be with the Lord.”  Paul tells us that we should not grieve like those who have no hope.

Please understand, Paul does not say we shouldn’t grieve.  Grieving is not a lack of faith—it shows the reality of love!  When you love someone you feel sad when they are gone.  Please do not apologize for your tears.  Jesus grieved when His friend Lazarus died and he knew he was going to bring Lazarus back from the dead!  Grief is normal and appropriate.

We can grieve, but we should do so with a sense of hope.  There are some who have no hope.  They don’t believe in life beyond the grave.  They reject the teaching and life of Jesus.  They ignore the resurrection of Christ and what it means.  These people see death as the end.  To them, we live and then there is no more.  For these people this is a day of deep despair that points to the meaninglessness of life.  The apostle Paul however wants us to know that there are reasons to hope today.

First, we have hope because of the resurrection of Christ.  Jesus died and was raised again.  It is not a fable but an established fact of history.  The resurrection of Christ proves that He was someone unique. This event proves that Jesus was telling the truth when He said He came from God to give His life for our sin.  Jesus promised that those who trust in Him will live–even though they die.

The gospel message is our hope this day.   The Bible tells us that we have all gone astray, but God did not stop loving us.  In this way Lois had the same kind of attitude that God has toward us.  We may disappoint the one who loves us, but they do not stop loving us.  Out of His love God sent Christ to pay the price for our rebellion.  He died on the cross to pay for our sin.  He died so that we might be forgiven and brought into a relationship with God.  God makes an astounding offer, He says that anyone who will rely on and trust in Christ will receive forgiveness, new life, and will live forever in Heaven.

Please understand, not everyone goes to Heaven.  The Bible tells us that only those who trust Christ will enjoy the Heavenly life.  And it sounds to me like Lois was one of those people.

When Richard died it was one of the most difficult times any parent could be asked to go through.  Richard was not only Lois’ son; he was her baby. Yet, when her son died, she refused to be mad at God.  She trusted that even though she could not understand why, God had a reason for what happened.  She put her confidence in Him even when her heart was broken.

Lois read her Bible.  In fact, she took a class that took her all the way through her Bible.  She saw the importance of knowing the truth and  sought to apply that truth to her living.

The life of Lois Bennett argues for her faith.  Understand, I’m not saying that Lois Bennett went to Heaven because she was a good person.  There is not a one of us here who is even close to being good enough to merit eternal life.  Lois Bennett is in Heaven because she trusted in what Christ had done for her.  She trusted Christ and he worked in and through her.  I’m arguing that Lois’ life gave much evidence that God was working in her.  She had an uncommon generous spirit.  She had a faith that kept her going in the hard times.  She had that servant spirit that was so characteristic of Jesus. She touched the lives of those around her in a way that seemed to be a channel of God’s blessing.

If these things are all true then Lois’ death is not a tragedy, it is a transition.  She is in the presence of the One who has loved her since before the creation of the world.  She is able to serve and honor the Lord Jesus Christ and is more joyful than she could have even imagined.  I suspect when you are in Heaven you don’t feel sad about not being with your family, you just can’t wait for them to experience Heaven with you.

This is a sad day for us, but not for Lois. To us, this is the end.  For her, it is the beginning.  Everyone who trusts Christ will see her again.  You feel like you have lost the glue that held you together, but in reality you have been left a legacy that will continue to shine as the years go on.  Lois Bennett has touched us and she has taught us.  It is now up to us to carry on her legacy.  She taught us,

  • If you are going to do something, do it right
  • It’s always a good idea to “stock up”
  • If you give yourself to others you find joy for yourself
  • People have different tastes; rather than complain, celebrate the differences that make us unique
  • Life is filled with beauty.  If you don’t want to take pictures, at least open your eyes and take in what you can.
  • Children are only young for a little while, you can choose to be aggravated or you can enjoy them to the fullest
  • Family is the greatest blessing.  Your house can never be too full if it is filled with family.
  • A true faith will see you through the tragedies of life, will equip you to share with others, and will prepare you for eternity.

Lois Bennett was a treasure for whom we thank God.

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Gracious Father, we give you thanks.  We thank you for the life of Lois Bennett.  Thank you for her spirit, her example, her service, and her joy.  Thank you for what she taught us and for what she left us.

We thank you also this day for Jesus.  Thank you for His life and His willingness to give that life so that we might be forgiven.  Thank you for His resurrection and the promise of eternal life.  Thank you that we need not face this day with despair.

I ask you to draw this family close to you and to each other.  Help Leland as he adjusts to the loss of his partner. Be with these children as they work to live on with the spirit of their mother.  Help these grandchildren to remember and to rejoice in the blessing they have enjoyed. Give this family strength in this time of weakness.  Give them hope in the midst of loss.  Give them faith for the journey of life.  Provide the glue that will hold them together. Grant that their faith might be strong and sure.  We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.