Erika U. Benson obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Erika U. Benson

July 23, 1937 - September 22, 2016

Obituary


Erika Ursula (Pienitz) Benson
July 23, 1937 - September 22, 2016

Erika was born in Berlin, Germany as the third child to Erich and Elisabeth Pienitz, where her father worked as an insurance attorney. The family fled the bombing of Berlin in 1942 and moved to Grandmother Pienitz' house in Wernigerode at the Harz Mountains. There she witnessed the town's liberation by American troops in April 1945. In 1948, her father relocated the family to nearby Quedlinburg where he worked as a judge. Coming into conflict with the East German Communist government through...

Erika Ursula (Pienitz) Benson
July 23, 1937 - September 22, 2016

Erika was born in Berlin, Germany as the third child to Erich and Elisabeth Pienitz, where her father worked as an insurance attorney. The family fled the bombing of Berlin in 1942 and moved to Grandmother Pienitz' house in Wernigerode at the Harz Mountains. There she witnessed the town's liberation by American troops in April 1945. In 1948, her father relocated the family to nearby Quedlinburg where he worked as a judge. Coming into conflict with the East German Communist government through her father's rulings, they fled to West Berlin and then on to West Germany in 1953.
In 1954, they settled in Wiesbaden where Erika began vocational training as a secretary. She met Private Arthur Benson at the Christian Serviceman's Club in Wiesbaden in June of 1957. They were married on September 1, 1958 in Frankfurt and moved to Michigan later that year. Art worked as a teacher in Beaverton as Erika held a secretary's position right up to the day their first son Alan was born in Gladwin in September 1959. The small family relocated to Montague where their second son, Thomas, was born in Shelby, November 1960. One year later, Art and Erika were attracted by opportunities offered by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) school system in Europe. There, Art first taught in Soesterberg, the Netherlands and then in Wiesbaden, Germany. They moved to Berlin in 1965 so that the boys could attend the bilingual John F. Kennedy School. In 1966 Erika became a naturalized U.S. citizen, and in December of that year, she had their third son Benjamin.
Erika enlarged her circle of friends through the American Church, Art's colleagues, JFKS Parents Association, and other Americans in Berlin. In the 70's, Erika began to take in babies and toddlers in daycare. Over the years, about 60 children enjoyed her care. In 1982, the Bensons moved to a bungalow as the sons began to leave the nest. In the 90's, they first moved in with Alan and his children to their new house, and then to their own apartment. Later they also took care of their last respective parents in Frankfurt, Germany and in Connecticut. At the turn of the century, they finally settled in their beloved Red Apple house by Lake Michigan in Manistee, Michigan. From there they chose the Covenant Village in Turlock, California for their final retirement.
Erika is survived by Arthur, her husband of 58 years; their three sons with their respective spouses Alan & Edith, Thomas & Elizabeth, Benjamin & Juliana; Brother Achim Pienitz and two nieces; ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.


Arrangements under the direction of Whitehurst-Norton-Dias Funeral Service (FD504), Turlock, CA.