Annie A. Bennett, nee Siebrands, 89, of Belleville, IL, born February 20, 1923, in rural Willow Lake, SD, died Thursday, January 3, 2012, at Highland Health Care Center, Highland, IL.
A lifelong educator, Mrs. Bennett retired from DoDDS Schools, Panama Canal Zone, and Belleville Area College. She was a member of St. Paul United Church of Christ, Lebanon, IL. She served on the Illinois South Conference UCC Board of Directors as well as on the Conference Mission & Ecumenism and Justice & Witness Teams. She was also a member of the Panama Canal Society and a former member of the News-Democrat Advisory Board.
Annie, as she was known to her friends, was born with the call to teach – and to wander – in her DNA. She began her teaching career in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Clark County, South Dakota. She taught every grade from first grade through college, in places as diverse as Guam and the Panama Canal Zone, from where she retired in 1981. She taught high school in Deadwood, South Dakota, and taught in various elementary schools in Iowa. She served as a house mother on a Winnebago Indian reservation and, for seven years, as a missionary teacher at Sunset Gap, Tennessee, in Appalachia. It is a testament to her great love for every student that she continued to be in contact with her former students, even though she retired from active teaching in 1995.
Ann and her husband Jerry, having met in a community theatre production, shared a lifelong love for the theatre arts. Ann earned her master’s degree in speech and theatre and acted and directed in numerous plays over her lifetime, most recently at Belleville Area College and Looking Glass Playhouse. Ann also loved to play bridge and was an excellent cook.
She was devoted to her family, especially her three sisters and their children, and her son, David, his wife, Becky, and their five children. She also had a deep love for the South Dakota prairie, the spirit of which she carried within wherever she traveled.
Ann and Jerry shared a strong love and enjoyed a good, good marriage. They were devoted to each other, especially in recent years as Alzheimer’s disease began to work its cruel good-bye.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Daniel B. and Ida, nee Gronewald, Siebrands; two sisters, Luella (Rex) Cooper and Darlene (Clinton) Dykstra; her father-in-law, J. Phillip Bennett; and two brothers-in-law, Ken S.E. Akers and Stanley Sowienski.
Surviving are her husband of 38 years, Rev. P. Jerry Bennett, whom she married September 21, 1974 at Balboa Union Church in the Panama Canal Zone;
her son, David (Rebecca) Bennett;
five grandchildren, Dylan M. Bennett, Devin A. Bennett,
Maranda L. Bennett, Kayla M. Bennett, and Shane P. Bennett;
a dear sister, Ettie Sowienski of Knoxville, IA;
loving nieces and nephews;
great-nieces and great-nephews;
former students; and friends around the globe.
Memorials may be made to St. Paul United Church of Christ, Lebanon, IL, to Trinity United Church of Christ, Belleville, IL, to the Illinois South Conference—Our Church’s Wider Mission, or to Highland Health Care Center. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.rennerfh.com.
Visitation: Friends may call from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday, January 7, 2013, at St. Paul United Church of Christ, 123 East Dee St., Lebanon, IL.
Funeral: Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, January 7, at St. Paul United Church of Christ, Lebanon, IL, with Rev. Don Wagner, Rev. Sheldon Culver, and Rev. Raymond Deuring officiating. Interment of cremains will be at Lake View Memorial Gardens, Fairview Heights, IL.