Chris Donavan will long remember the day she walked into her children’s Sunday school class and saw a very animated Frances Pedrick Benz and her puppet theater.
Benz, who taught Sunday school at Church of the Holy Cross, was an amazing teacher, Donavan says. The children in the class were giving Benz their undivided attention.
Benz brought Bible stories to life using methods that made a lasting impression on children, Donavan says. Her own children would re-enact the lessons at home, embracing the teachings in the process.
Donavan, who knew Benz for 25 years, learned many things about being a Christian as she watched Benz practice her faith, she says.
Benz, who was born Feb. 18, 1928, died Sept. 6.
Some of those lessons were learned while interacting with Benz during TBA, a women’s Bible study group at their church.
“Fran was the oldest in the group and had far more wisdom than the rest of us,” Donavan says. “But she would come as if she had so much to learn from us.”
Lisa Collins, who also participates in TBA, described Benz as a treasure. “She was this precious jewel who taught me a lot about the Christian life by the way she lived.”
Benz, Collins says, was a self-less giver. She was someone who always asked about you first, she says, adding that Benz had a quick wit and could always get you to laugh. “She was an amazing woman.”
Donavan says Benz could always put things into perspective.
“She would give us a more gentle perspective on things such as divorce, childbirth and teens. She would help us to see the bigger picture.”
Benz, Donavan says, also was the driving force behind the church’s library.
“She solicited all the donations and chose the best materials. It’s a great place to meditate, pray, relax and chat with friends.
Benz also organized a project for seniors to make care packages for church members who had gone away to college. It was a way to let the students know the church still cared about them. It was a way for the seniors to feel they were doing something useful with their time.
Benz was always thinking of others, Donavan says. She would redirect the focus of her conversations to others. It was never just about her.
“You just always felt loved and that you were the greatest person in the world. I will miss the way she read the Bible. Her voice was so melodic.”
Benz wrote a booklet called “Gleanings,” says Donavan, who recalled a couple of the inspirational thoughts Benz expressed in it: “When I get lost Lord, give me the good sense to stand still and let you find me.” And, “Dear Lord, as it would please you, send me someone today I can serve.”
Donavan will miss her friend’s wisdom and the simple, but powerful way she prayed. She would start her prayers with: “God, it’s me, Fran.” When they prayed jointly, she would say: “Hello God. It’s us, Chris and Fran.”
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.