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Melina Benna of Whitewood, SK, age 91 years, passed away peacefully Tuesday, March 2, 2021. She was born near Lestock, SK, on January 20, 1930. Melina was the eighth of nine children. Her parents, John and Elizabeth Berkes, immigrated to Canada from Hungary in 1924 and raised their children on the beautiful Saskatchewan prairie.
Melina was predeceased by her husband, Andrew Benna, in 1970; her brothers, John, Bill, George and Steve; her sisters, Agnes, Mary, Grace and Liz; brothers-in-law Joe, Frank, Peter, Charlie and George; sisters-in-law Lena, Marge, Ann, Clara and Margaret; and by her beloved sons-in-law, Randy Browatzke (2016) and David Merkel (2018).
Melina leaves to remember her dearly her devoted daughters, Dianne, Debbie (John), Darlene and Delilah (Garnet); her beloved grandchildren, Trent (Angelina), Michael (Catherine), Amanda (Ryan), Andrew (Cassie), Brett (Michelle), Kelsey (Jared), Riley, Griffin and Grayson; her treasured great-grandchildren, Christina, Tyler, Ivan, Lia, Hailey and Noah; her sisters-in-law, Winnifred and Yvonne; brothers-in-law Victor and Lyle; countless nieces and nephews and numerous friends and caregivers whose hearts she touched.
Melina married Andrew Benna on October 4, 1948; their first years of marriage were spent farming in the Qu’Appelle Valley with Andrew’s parents. During this time, Mel gave birth to two daughters, Dianne Ann and Debra Elizabeth. In 1954 Andrew left for British Columbia to work in the logging industry. Melina would follow shortly after, travelling across the prairies by train with Dianne, age two years, and Debbie, only five months old. The couple resided in Ashcroft, BC, and there Melina and Andrew welcomed their third daughter, Darlene Ann. In the summer of 1959, Melina, Andrew and their three girls returned to Saskatchewan and settled in Whitewood, later welcoming another daughter Delilah Donna in 1969. Andrew passed away suddenly in early 1970 due to terminal cancer, and Melina was left on her own to raise her four girls aged 17, 15, 11 and seven months.
Melina worked hard to support her family; she had a work ethic rivalled by few and took pride in any job to which she set her hand. Throughout the years, she worked at the local general store, then called the Solo store. Later she was employed at the Whitewood Hotel as a waitress and bartender, eventually becoming the manager. When the Whitewood and District Care Home opened in 1983, Melina became one of its original employees, working in the laundry department. She was always very happy to help and do whatever she could to make the lives of the residents a bit more comfortable. After 12 years of service at the nursing home, Melina retired in 1995.
Melina enjoyed her retirement; she had always been an amazing cook and avid gardener, but retirement afforded her more time to do other things she enjoyed. She loved going for walks, crocheting, quilting, cross stitch, sewing and jigsaw puzzles, and, of course, a couple of her favourite activities were going to the casino and bingo with her family. Above all, enjoying her family took priority; her grandchildren and great-grandchildren owned her heart, and she took every opportunity to build memories with them. Melina had somewhat of a reputation for making the best soups ever! Surely gramburger soup will go down in history.
For the last four years, Melina has resided at the Whitewood and District Care Home. She considered it home and enjoyed the amazing staff and the other residents. She would often describe her caregivers as “her girls”, and she loved and appreciated them beyond measure. The quality of care, love, respect and consideration she and her family received from the staff there was second to none and will never be forgotten.
Our Mom’s focus was always on taking care of her family, no matter what she had to do without to do so. She gave an immeasurable amount of love and support to everyone for whom she cared. There was nothing more important to her than family. Without saying too much, Mom always managed to give the best advice, loads of encouragement, and always let us know she was proud of us. Her love was always unconditional. She proved to us daily throughout our lives that no matter how difficult things got, as long as we worked hard, had each other and remained patient and kind, we could get through anything. Mom was always willing to listen and was the constant that we could count on to share our laughter and our tears. She never failed to help us up when we stumbled and to be the first one cheering when we would succeed. Mom will be remembered with love and admiration but also for her uncanny wit and her ability to incite joy and laughter with a well-timed one-liner. We are confident that Mom left this world knowing that we would be okay, we would carry her with us in our hearts forever, and above all that our love for her has no limits.
Our mom was an incredible woman who taught us so much about love, strength, perseverance and kindness. We know she was loved by many, and with her quiet strength and caring, and her legendary quick wit, touched many lives throughout her own. It is because of this that we take great comfort in knowing our mom will live on in many hearts and memories.
Melina’s family wishes to acknowledge with deep appreciation the many expressions of love, concern and kindness extended to them during this time.
God looked around His garden
And found an empty place
He then looked down upon the earth
And saw your tired face.
He put his arms around you
And lifted you to rest.
God’s garden must be beautiful
He always takes the best.
He saw the road was getting rough
And the hills were hard to climb,
So He closed your weary eyelids
And whispered “Peace be thine”.
It broke our hearts to lose you
But you didn’t go alone,
For part of us went with you
The day God called you home..