Alfred Arthur Benien, Norton, died December 3, 2010 at the Andbe Home at the age of 92.
Graveside military funeral services for Mr. Benien, a World War II Veteran, were held Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. at the Norton Cemetery. Inurnment followed. Memorials may be made to the Andbe Home, Norton. Olliff-Boeve Memorial Chapel, Phillipsburg, is in charge of arrangements.
Alfred Arthur Benien was born on August 2, 1918 in Lincoln, Kansas, the son of Fred D. Benien and Clara (Hilgendorf) Benien.
In 1925 he moved with his family from Lincoln to a farm northwest of Norton, Kansas. He attended the Immanuel Lutheran Church Parochial School northwest of Norton and later the Norton Community schools. He graduated from Norton Community High School in 1936.
After graduation from high school he worked the summer harvest in Norton then went west to Colorado and Washington picking fruit, returning to Norton in December, 1936. After his return he worked for various service stations, drove the Bickel Bus to Kearney, Nebraska and helped with family farming until going to work for the Gamble Stores in Norton from 1939 until 1942. He was inducted into the United States Army Air Force in May, 1942. He served as a mechanic, crew chief and inspector ending up with a B-29 outfit stationed in Oklahoma, Texas, and California and flying missions to the Caribbean Theatre of Operations including Puerto Rico and the Philippines. He was among the first soldiers trained to service and maintain the B-29 bombers being built by Boeing in Seattle, Washington graduating from its Flying Fortress Training in July, 1944. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant and received his Honorable Discharge from the Army Air Force in December, 1945. He was a member of the Air Corps Enlisted Reserve Corp of the Army of the United States from 1945 until 1948.
After his discharge he returned to Norton and worked at various jobs until 1947 or 1948 when, in addition to farming, he entered into employment as a Soil Conservation Contractor with the U. S. Soil Conservation program. For the next ten years he and his partner, Bernard Braun, also of Norton, terraced much of the land in Norton County. In 1949 they constructed 417 miles of terraces, more than one fourth of the terraces constructed in Norton County in that year alone. During this time period he also was involved with work for rural electrification wiring farms homes throughout the county.
He was among the earliest, if not founding, members of the Norton County Cooperative Association and the United Coop Federal Credit Union, serving on one of its earliest Board of Directors from 1950-1952. He was elected to serve as Clerk and to other Township Board positions for Garfield Township in which he resided while living on the farm.
On August 17, 1952 he was united in marriage to Genevieve Irene Kirk in Clayton. In 1956 he and his wife Genevieve purchased a farm northwest of Norton where they resided until 1982 when they moved to Norton. He continued to farm, at least on a part time basis, until the late 1990’s. He resided at the home in Norton until May 1, 2009 when he suffered a stroke which required him to move to the Andbe Home.
During the mid- sixties and continuing throughout the seventies he was actively involved in farm organizations and causes seeking to publicize the plight of the family farmer and obtain “parity” for farmers for the wheat they produced. He was a long standing member of the National Farmers Union and the Wheat Growers Association and at a later time the National Farmers Organization. In 1967 and 1968 he served as President of the Norton County Farmers Union and was appointed to the Agricultural Advisory Committee of the Norton Chamber of Commerce. In 1970 he served on the Legislative Steering Committee and the Wheat Committee for the National Farmers Union organization. He was a representative to the national conventions for the National Farmers Union in 1970, 1971, 1973 and part of the Flying Farmers group that traveled to Washington, D.C. in the early 1970’s. In the late 1970’s he also was an ardent supporter and member of one of three speaking teams for the American Agricultural Movement traveling across Kansas trying to organize farmers and participating in and promoting tractor drives across the state, including to Hays and Topeka, Kansas.
In 1975 he and his wife Genevieve were presented the Norton County Conservation District’s Annual Bankers Award for outstanding conservation practices.
He was a member of the American Legion Post No. 63 of Norton, Kansas.
Survivors include: two daughters, Reva L. Benien, Norton, and Ruth M. Benien, Kansas City, Kansas; special friend, Verla Chambers, Norton; a sister, Frances Simpson, Atkinson, North Carolina; a brother-in-law and his wife, William M. and Stephanie Kirk, Topeka, Kansas; five nephews, Robert Simpson and his wife, Sheila Simpson, Currie, North Carolina; Frayser Simpson, Charlotte, North Carolina; William N. Kirk and his wife, Katherine Kirk, Vero Beach, Florida; Philip M. Kirk and Shelly Jones, Oak Grove, Missouri; and Alan Benien, Denver, Colorado, other relatives and many friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents Fred and Clara Benien; his wife, Genevieve; a brother, Melvin Benien; and a sister, Ruth Wheaton.