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Mildred "Millie" Adaline Beneke
A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m., Aug. 4, at Christ Lutheran Church for Mildred "Millie" Adaline Stong Beneke, 83, of Glencoe.
Mrs. Beneke died on Thursday, July 25, 2002, at Glencoe Regional Health Services.
Millie Stong was born in Prairie City, Iowa, to Rueben and Lilly May Stong, and graduated from Tingley High School before moving to St. Paul. In St. Paul, she met Arnold Beneke, while he was attending the St. Paul College of Law. They married in 1939.
After Mr. Beneke's service in World War II, they made their home in Glencoe.
Mrs. Beneke was active in politics and served as the McLeod County Republican Party chairwoman for six years.
The Benekes were devoted to the community and together lead a successful volunteer fund-raising drive to build the first public swimming pool. The Benekes also were charter members of Glencoe Friends of the Library and played key roles in the establishment of the Glencoe Country Club.
In 1975, Mrs. Beneke became the first woman to be elected to Glencoe City Council. While serving on the council, she worked tirelessly to help lay the groundwork for the building of the first senior citizens housing unit in Glencoe in 1978, which was named Millie Beneke Manor in her honor.
Mrs. Beneke began writing plays in the 1970s, which related to her experience in living in a small town. Two of her successful plays included "The Garage Sale," about good women friends holding a small-town garage sale, and "Politics Unusual," a comedy about a woman serving on a small-town city council.
She and her husband helped found Buffalo Creek Players, where she directed and produced plays of well-known writers and her own plays as well as many skits and special productions.
She especially enjoyed working with children of the school system to produce children's plays, many of which she wrote.
Under her leadership, Buffalo Creek Players performed shows for other nearby communities and the Shakopee women's prison. Mrs. Beneke also wrote several plays celebrating the history of local communities.
The theater used some of the proceeds to provide funding for various training programs at the prison.
Her love of writing and friendships in the theater community resulted in a contact with a French movie maker, Louis Malle, who lived with the Benekes while he produced a documentary on small-town America, featuring Glencoe, called "God's Country."
Mrs. Beneke also was a member of the Children's Theatre board of directors in Minneapolis.
The Benekes also helped to found PI House, one Minnesota's first half-way houses for women leaving Shakopee prison, and Project Interaction Inc., which offered special training and education programs to support women still incarcerated in Shakopee to better prepare them for their release.
Survivors include her five children, Bruce (Martha Eaves) Beneke of St. Paul, Paula Beneke, Anchorage, Alaska, Brad (Dr. Carolyn Torkelson) Beneke of Shakopee, Cynthia (David) Gaffney of Belvidere, Ill., and Lesa (Michael) Melby of Duluth; eight grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; close friends of the family, Pete (Mari) Stibal and Sam (Carol) Sarrillion Namakkal of St. Paul.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Arnold Beneke; and sisters, Mabel Schmidt, Edith May and Netha Pauline.
The Johnson-McBride Funeral Chapel of Glencoe handled the funeral arrangements.
Howard Lake-Waverly Herald & Winsted-Lester Prairie