Beth (Markley) Wirth Bennett passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, in her Alva, Oklahoma residence on March 14, 2023, at the age of 96. Having accepted Christ as her Savior at an early age, she was an inspiring model of faith and unconditional love to everyone she knew. She was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, lifelong educator, and master seamstress.
The fifth of eight children, Beth was born on July 18, 1926, on a farm in Lincoln County, Kansas, to Jennie and Ernest Markley, who delivered her. She and her siblings were vital to the success of the family farm and were taught at an early age to value education. She attended Surprise School through eighth grade and Lincoln High School, graduating without having ever missed a day of school.
Beth was united in marriage to Francis Wirth, a lifelong farmer who was also the State Farm Insurance agent in Lincoln, on February 26, 1943. She enjoyed helping drive the trucks for both custom harvest runs and their family harvests every year (always in a dress). She began teaching elementary school soon after she graduated high school. After eighteen years of attending summer school, she graduated from Fort Hays State University with a bachelor’s degree and later completed a master’s degree in Elementary Education and a Reading Specialist certificate, also from Fort Hays. As a reading specialist, she dedicated her forty-year career to teaching children in Osborne, Russell, and Lincoln counties to read. Francis preceded her in death in 1988.
She retired in 1989, finishing her career as a second grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School. After retirement, Beth married Walter Bennett in 1993 and lived in Chandler, Arizona, where her family grew to include Walt’s four children and many grandchildren. She lived in Chandler until moving to Denver City, Texas, to be near her sister, June Markley Hanneman. In 2013, Beth moved to the Homestead Retirement Community in Alva, Oklahoma, the home of her granddaughter’s family. There she enjoyed playing games, reading, sewing, crocheting beautiful doilies for each family member, listening to her Southern gospel music, and laughing with the ladies of Table 6. Walt preceded her in death in 2016.
Beth was deeply loved by her family, who treasured her keen intelligence and sharp wit. Though her life was one of impeccable order and organization, she was always ready to play games deep into the night, always indulgent with her gifts and love, and always approachable and kind despite her regal bearing.
In addition to Francis Wirth and Walt Bennett, Beth was preceded in death by her daughter, Marilyn Ball, a lifelong teacher and children’s minister who inherited her love of children and education; her son-in-law, Don Ball; her sister, June Hanneman; and her brothers Howard, Kenneth, Ernest Jr., Max, Wilton, and Larry. She is survived by her brother Richard (Lois); sister-in-law Donna; granddaughters Kerri (James) Bell and Kristi Wolstenholm; her great-grandchildren Chris (Emily) and Ty Bell; her great-great-grandsons Grady and Wilder Bell; her stepchildren Steven (Ellen) Bennett, Louise (Edward) Wolfe, Lillian (Michael) DelPinto, Paul (Victoria) Bennett; her step-grandchildren; step-great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. She loved all of these family members deeply.
Services for Beth will be held at the First Church of the Nazarene in Salina, Kansas, at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, March 20, with internment at the Lincoln Cemetery to follow.
Memorial contributions can be made to First Church of the Nazarene, Salina, c/o, Hall Chapel, PO Box 37, Lincoln, KS 67455.
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