Mary Benco died at home on January 20, 2019, in La Crosse, WI.
She was born September 20, 1934, in Cudahy, WI. After graduating from Milwaukee’s Notre Dame High School, Mary proudly worked for Allen-Bradley Company. She also cared for her mother and helped care for her sister’s young family. She was a strong-willed, creative woman who was proud of her Slovak heritage and Milwaukee upbringing. Although Mary loved to travel to different places, including Chicago, Colorado, California and Cuba, her heart belonged to Milwaukee.
Mary loved music, art, theater and socializing. She had an extensive record collection, made beautiful pottery and loved to sing. She had many books of different artists, and she would have sketch books, pencils, charcoal, and clay for her nephew and nieces to use when they spent time with her on weekends at her apartment. She took great delight in exposing them to music, museums, and theater.
Mary was vivacious, mischievous, and willing to test boundaries and conventions. She was independent, self-reliant and determined to tackle whatever obstacles life dealt her. She was an avid reader and loved to solve puzzles of all kinds. She liked to eat the burnt kernels in a batch of home-made popcorn, and she was a proud Avon Lady. She thrived in the middle of social scenes and was always in the know about politics and the world around her. If you wanted to know what was going on, Mary was your connection, and she was never shy about speaking up and out. She delighted in telling and passing along stories, often with an impish twinkle in her eye.
Mary’s proudest accomplishment was raising her son, Michael. Michael was a precocious little boy, but Mary kept him challenged and raised him well. She was especially proud when he graduated from Thomas More High School and went on to graduate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering. Despite geographical distance, they always stayed very connected.
Everywhere she lived, Mary made friends and had fun. Her last few years, she lived in La Crosse, WI, to be near Michael. Although she missed Milwaukee and “the Lake,” she was very happy nestled between the bluffs of La Crosse and the banks of the Mississippi River near her son.
She is survived by her son, Michael (Andrea) Benco; her sister Anne (Eugene) Holubowicz’s children: Kathy (Joe) Merkel, Jeannie Dretzka and Jeff (Jo) Holubowicz; her brother Joe Pilko’s children: Virginia (Paul) Ramstack and Joanne Pilko; and many grandnieces and grandnephews. She is preceded in death by her sister Anne Holubowicz, her brother Joe Pilko and his wife Lorraine, and Anne’s daughter Susan Helf.