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Penelope C. (Morton) Bender
November 12, 1922 ~ November 15, 2023 (age 101) 101 Years Old
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Penelope Cassandra Morton Bender (Penny) joined the Church Triumphant on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at the age of 101. She passed away peacefully at her home in Pollocksville, surrounded by her loving family.
She is survived by her children: James Virgil (Jay) Bender Jr. and wife Sheron; Mark Robert Bender and wife Kay; Janet Bender Purvis and husband Blair; her grandchildren: Robert Bryan Bender; Rebecca Bender Mulvaney and husband Jack; Lauren Bender Meadows and husband Chad; James Thomas Purvis and wife Veronica; Robert Pollock Bender and wife Hailey; and John Mark Bender and wife Dana; and her great-grandchildren: Hardy Meadows, Dixon Bender, Birch Purvis, and expected baby girl Bender. She was predeceased by her husband of 61 years, James Virgil Bender, her parents, John Wesley and Ethel Williams Morton, her brother, John Wesley (Jack) Morton Jr, and her sister, Jane Morton Brittain.
Born in New Bern on November 12, 1922, she graduated from New Bern High School and received her B. S. in Secretarial Administration from Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (now UNC-G) in 1943. She traveled to New York City and worked for a year or so and then returned to New Bern where she worked for First Citizens Bank. She married James Virgil Bender on January 30, 1948 and moved to Pollocksville, helping him operate Bender Candy Company, a wholesale candy and tobacco distribution business, raising her children, and becoming involved in various community, school, and church activities.
Upon her marriage, she joined the Pollocksville Presbyterian Church where she taught Young Adult and Adult Sunday School and served as organist and choir director for 32 years. After her “retirement” from the organ bench, she continued to substitute and to sing in the choir. She taught her last Adult Sunday School Class at the age of 93 – a study of C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. Elected as a Ruling Elder, she served on the Session for numerous terms, including several years as Clerk of the Session. She served as an officer of the Women of the Church – now Presbyterian Women – and led numerous circle meetings. She received the designation of Life Member in the Presbyterian Women. She also participated in the work of the larger church with her service on the Commission on Ministry.
Penny enjoyed reading, music and dancing, and meeting people. She loved history of all kinds, but especially the history of New Bern, and she provided many details about New Bern’s history and historic homes in her later years. She supported the Jones County Historical Society, the New Bern Historical Society, the New Bern Preservation Society, and the Tryon Palace Foundation. She was especially pleased that her son, Jay, served on the Tryon Palace Commission. She possessed a wealth of knowledge on a variety of subjects and was genuinely interested in everything. She adored her frequent and lively conversations with her son Mark, especially on politics, all things humorous, and family memories. She loved to travel, and she and Virgil traveled all over the United States and abroad. After caring for Virgil for 16 years, and upon his death, she continued her travels, accompanied by her daughter Janet, until she was 95.
Her memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 18, 2023 at 11:00AM at the Pollocksville Presbyterian Church, with Pastor Kenneth Yearick, CRE, officiating. There will be a private family burial in the Pollocksville Cemetery. The family will receive friends after the service and other times at the home.
The family expresses sincere appreciation and great love to Penny’s caregivers – Deborah Bradley, Saundra Kinsey, and Sudie Crouell. Memorial gifts may be directed to the Pollocksville Presbyterian Church Music Fund, PO Box 205, Pollocksville, NC 28573 or The Filling Station, PO Box 222, Pollocksville, NC 28573.