1918 - 2012
Katherine “Kay” Frank Benzel, 94, of Walla Walla, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012.
The fifth of nine children, Kay was born in her 4-bedroom family home in Walla Walla on June 17, 1918, to immigrants John and Elizabeth Frank. From her parents she learned lessons of industriousness and faith that guided her throughout her life. With her siblings she enjoyed playing in local parks and swimming holes. She sang in her church choir and was a dedicated student, graduating from Walla Walla High School in 1936.
Kay married Harold Benzel in her family home on Nov. 10, 1940. Through their 72 years of marriage, they shared their love of music and travel, living in Spokane, Walla Walla, and Redlands, Calif. Kay and Harold raised four children.
Kay was devoted to her family and its history. She enjoyed spending time with siblings, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, demonstrating her love through preparing traditional German dishes. She especially cherished family reunions, and preserved her heritage as an active member of the Blue Mountain Chapter of Germans from Russia. Never one to sit idle, Kay worked as a secretary, first for Walla Walla attorney Cameron Sherwood and then for the city planning department in Redlands, Calif. After returning to Walla Walla, she was employed as a test examiner for the U.S. government.
Church was a second home to Kay, a longtime member of the Blue Mountain Community Church, where fellowship with her Bible study group enriched her faith. Kay served as an officer of a variety of charitable organizations, including the Sunshine Club, the Evangelical and Reformed Church Women’s Guild and the Christian Aid Center Auxiliary. Katherine also enjoyed volunteering in a first grade classroom at Sharpstein Elementary School where the children knew her as “Grandma Kay.”
In addition to her husband, Kay is survived by her children and their spouses: Steve and Nona Benzel of Walla Walla; Michael Benzel of Walla Walla; Mark Benzel and Kris Weatherill of Bend, Ore.; and Jane and Luis Chaname of Moreno Valley, Calif. Siblings, Carl Frank of Goleta, Calif.; Dave Frank of Fayetteville, N.C.; Sol Frank of Walla Walla; John Frank of Garden Grove, Calif.; Harold Frank of Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Freda Wilhelm of Walla Walla also survive Kay, as do eight grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild; and numerous nieces and nephews. Kay was preceded in death by her parents; and sisters, Elizabeth Dalton and Mollie Schiffman.
A celebration of Kay’s life will be held at Blue Mountain Community Church on Saturday, Aug. 11, at 10 a.m. Memorial contributions may be made to Blue Mountain Community Church, Walla Walla Community Hospice, or the Christian Aid Center through the Herring Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder St., Walla Walla. Family and friends are invited to sign the online guestbook at www.herringgroseclose.com.
Kay’s family would like to thank the Walla Walla Odd Fellows Home and Walla Walla Community Hospice for their compassionate care.
Kay was the beloved spiritual center of our family. We have been blessed as she inspired us daily by living out her faith with a selfless commitment to others. Our consolation is the certainty that through grace she has entered eternal life with her Lord and Savior.