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Mary Catherine Brinson Bender




Mary Catherine Brinson Bender died peacefully on November 24, 2021 at the Crystal Coast Hospice House in Newport, NC at age 96. A Celebration of Life is planned by her loving family and friends to celebrate her memory. Catherine was born in Beaufort, NC on September 14, 1925, the third of six sisters born to Thaddeus Wallace Brinson and Kathryn Thomas Brinson. The sisters, Lila, Helen, Catherine, Susan, Dottie, and Patsy, were close throughout their lives continuing a 50 year tradition of gathering for a reunion of the Brinson clan each summer in the same cottage, Papa’s Palace, at Atlantic Beach.

Catherine attended Flora MacDonald Woman’s College in Red Springs, NC, and East Carolina Teacher’s College (now ECU) in Greenville, NC and taught a combination class in the Cove City Elementary School. She married Ernest Linwood Bender, on March 12, 1948, at Centenary Methodist Church in New Bern.They raised two sons, Ernest Linwood Bender III (Ernie) and Brian Brinson Bender. Catherine and Ernest traveled extensively during their marriage living in Atlanta, Florida, Boston, Chicago and Richmond before returning home to New Bern, their first and final home. In each city, Catherine used her special touch to make each house a home.

Catherine’s life was filled with family, homemaking, her church community in numerous cities, many friends, and sharing her unique gifts with others. She was well known for her warm generosity, her quick wit, her flair for entertaining, and her boundless energy. She was an excellent cook, and an immaculate housekeeper. She loved her church, and volunteered tirelessly preparing meals, arranging flowers, and visiting those confined to home. At Christ Church, she served as a leader for Koinonia or Neighbors in Christ, a Pastoral Care group helping people in need in the local community. Caring for others came naturally to Catherine. When Ernest’s father, Dr. Ernest Bender, lived with them in their Richmond home, Catherine and her father-in-law, shared a special bond.

Catherine also loved history and the restoration and protection of old places and things. She donated the old train station to the Town of Pollocksville several years ago. This restored building on the river became the welcome center and official office fo town administration, much to her delight.

Catherine was pre-deceased by Ernest, her husband of 55 years, her son, Ernest Linwood Bender III, her sisters and her parents. Survivors include son, Brian Brinson Bender (Diana), daughter-in-law, Kim Bender Tofferi, grandsons Timothy Brennan Bender (Andrea), Thaddeus Daniel Bender, Jordan Samuel Bender, great grandchildren, Genevieve Linwood Bender, and Lucian Robert Bender, and many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Particularly close were Jane and Dan Loftis, who managed her affairs during her last year, Julia Hudson, her dearest friend for decades and the Hudson family, and cousins Carol Mattocks and Linda Staunch, who were faithful and attentive companions and supporters to Catherine throughout her life. Special thanks to her devoted caregivers for many years: Juliann Toews, Amy Koehler, Elizabeth Barkman, and Rosalie Wenger. Also: Melinda Wheeler, Assisting at Home, and caregivers: Vergi Tucker, Janessa Simmons, Cindy Morris, and Ebonee Lewis, and Sarah Wellington.

A Memorial Service will be held in the Outdoor Chapel at Christ Episcopal Church in New Bern on January 15, 2022 at 11:00 am. Attendees are asked to wear a mask for safety and consideration of others. In lieu of flowers, donations made be made in honor of Catherine to Christ Episcopal Church or to the Crystal Coast Hospice House.

Catherine will be remembered fondly as a genuine and generous soul who was gracious, charming and kind to the end of her life.

Well done Catherine. Yours was a life well lived.