Obituary: Benander, Marjorie Ohrmann Kennedy
A Tribute to BENANDER, Marjorie Ohrmann Kennedy August 23, 1921 - March 31, 2014 Marjorie Marie Ohrmann Kennedy Benander was a reflective woman whose life was a veritable whirlwind of energy, creativity, and generosity. The fourth child of German Lutheran Minnesotans, August Ohrmann and Flora Buehring Ohrmann, was born Aug. 23, 1921 at Ryegate, Montana. With her sisters Geraldine, Anita, and brother Bill, the entire family ranched in the very rural areas of western Montana. The family traditions included pride and enthusiasm for their beloved herd of registered black Aberdeen Angus cattle. These award-winning cattle were shipped by rail from the Ohrmann farm in Minnesota. To Marjorie’s on-going delight, the progeny of the original herd dot the hills of the family ranch near Drummond, MT to this day. After Marjorie was born, the family ranched in the Phillipsburg and Ovando areas of Montana. and ultimately settled near Drummond. Marjorie’s parents both died within a few months of each other while she was in high school; her sister Geraldine, with her husband John, moved to Drummond to give their support to Marjorie and her brother Bill, and to help sustain the ranch. After high school graduation in 1939, Marjorie embarked on college studies in art and education in Dillon, MT., receiving a number of coveted awards for her sensitive and expressive watercolors. She remained an accomplished painter throughout her life. Following her college degree, Marjorie taught in several remote Montana school districts, followed by many years of brilliant teaching in elementary schools in Spokane, WA. Her classes were notably characterized by accolades from parents. Students called her “My Favorite Teacher.” Her election as president of the Association of Childhood Education showcased her professional ability and interests. During this time Marjorie and her first husband, Jack H. (“Jake”) Kennedy, together designed and built their home on five Glenrose Prairie acres. They surrounded it with brilliant flowers, trees, and productive gardens. Marjorie’s exuberant personality was reflected in the house, brimming with beautifully arranged antiques and thoughtful design elements. Marjorie and Jake invested their multiple energies and talents in their two beloved children, Ron Scott Kennedy and Kyra Lee Kennedy. Even in a time of tight finances, they made sure Kyra and Ron had the best children’s books, toys, and creative experiences; this generosity often overflowed to the extended family. Marjorie later married Ancil Benander. Her sketches of those times illustrate her enjoyment of their boat trips, her love of birds and animals, and the various trips she and Ancil took throughout the Pacific Northwest. Marjorie, a voracious reader and a journal writer as a young child, celebrated her love of literature with participation in book clubs; she also bestowed books on her children, grandchildren, and friends. Marjorie amassed a gigantic library of treasured books, some of which have been donated to the Drummond, MT public library. She was a Glenrose community supporter and a long time member of the Glenrose Garden Club and Book Club. She maintained her property as a Certified National Wildlife Sanctuary. She was known throughout the community and extended family as an expert cook with a talent for putting together inspired menus. Marjorie passed on her ability to teach art as an Adjunct Professor in elementary art methods at Gonzaga University; these methods also became the foundation for a similar class at Whitworth University. Also an accomplished seamstress and quilter, as well as a “dabbler” in fashion design, Marjorie created clothes for her daughter and sold children’s outfits that were both beautiful and unique. Marjorie Ohrmann Kennedy Benander represented a high-spirited “Renaissance Woman” who pondered difficult global issues, was a life-long learner, adored her children and grandchildren, loved her extended family, her pets, and the natural world-all with a depth and passion that has made the earth a better place. She was preceded in death by her husbands, Jack Kennedy and Ancil Benander; her sisters Geraldine Hollar and Anita Shawen, and is survived by her artist and rancher brother Bill Ohrmann, with his wife Phyllis, of Drummond, MT. She is also survived by nieces and nephews who loved that Marjorie was always interested in their interests, and an immediate and extended family that she adored. Immediate family survivors include her beloved children Ron Scott Kennedy and Kyra Lee Kennedy, along with their spouses Billie Kennedy and Pat McGrath. Grandchildren include Megan McGrath, Matthew McGrath, Jason Kennedy, as well as step-grandchildren Kim Pace, Kellie Ross and step great grandchildren Jake and Sam Ross.