With ways all her own, it was the heart of Sara Bennett that lovingly held her family close. Through unyielding faith, she was a woman who knew the value of hard work and the meaning of giving without expecting anything in return. Sara’s loving compassion and nurturing example touched the hearts of many. For these things and so much more, she will be remembered fondly.
By 1929, the days of the good times of the Roaring Twenties gave way to hard economic times of the depression years. From coast to coast, financial uncertainty cascaded into panic with the crash of the stock market. Just merely the beginning of hard times in America, the Great Depression was officially launched in a country that had seen much growth and prosperity. Despite these troubling times, the hearts of Benjamin and Mary (Griffo) Tenaglia remained ever hopeful. Like thousands of others, they had immigrated to the United States from Italy with promises of better tomorrows. Finding their new home in the New Jersey/New York area, it was on June 10, 1929, when they welcomed the birth of their precious little girl, Sara, into their arms.
Born in Jersey City, N.J., raised there and the boroughs of New York City alongside her sisters: Toni, Margie, Gloria, and Cecile, Sara, her family of five girls, held fast to their strong, Italian heritage. Along with others who had emigrated from their homeland, they were part of a close-knit, Italian community where everyone looked out for one another. Sara’s childhood days were spent enjoying the friendships of many, playing street games, and spending time with her family. She attended New York City public schools and graduated from high school with the Class of 1947.
As a young adult, Sara worked as an usherette at one of the local movie theaters. Although she loved getting to see all the latest shows, Sara had high aspirations of becoming a nurse. With her helpful nature, compassionate heart, and often times no-nonsense demeanor, nursing was a perfect fit for her. Sara’s dream was soon realized after completing her nurse’s training at St. Michael’s Hospital in 1951. Upon graduation, as many did when our country was in conflict, she went on to proudly serve her country in the U.S. Army as a Second Lieutenant Nurse USAR. Sara loved her nursing career while serving in the Army. As fate would have it, it was also the place where she came to know her one true love, Corporal Richard Bennett USAR. She met Richard at a social event they both attended. Though frowned upon because she was a higher ranking officer, before long they shared a mutual attraction. Quite smitten, they began dating. After completing her services to the Army, on Sept. 1, 1956, they were happily married in Richard’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
After ten years of nursing, Sara and Richard (Dick) decided to start their adoptive family with their daughter Nancy, followed by Bob, in Bay Village, Ohio. Dick had a love for farms, so the couple bought an 1863 fixer-upper farm home near Medina, OH. Here, they adopted Bill and they raised their three children for 20 years on their small farm. A menagerie of cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep, ducks, barn cats and dogs kept them plenty busy. As a stay-at-home wife and no stranger to hard work, Sara actually loved helping on the farm, yet nothing compared to her love for caring for her family. Raising the children with all the challenges of children, sports, FFA, Scotts, 4-H and band practices kept her busy all the time. Keeping things going and the family fed is where her true passion for the love of cooking came by preparing meals for her family. Whenever she heard company was coming to visit, she’d swing into action, creating remarkable and delicious meals for everyone to enjoy. Sara cooked with celebratory flair and loved bestowing her scrumptious talents on all. She counted cooking as her greatest hobby in addition to collecting antiques to fill the home, gardening, and farm work.
In the 80’s hard times fell on the steel industry where Dick worked. With the children grown, in 1985 they moved to Tampico, Ill., for work. There, Dick worked while Sara took care of their hobby farm until they retired. As in Ohio, Sara was also active in the community at the church and volunteering. After retirement, they moved to South Carolina to enjoy the warm weather in their retirement years. There they enjoyed visits from the family and grandchildren spending time on the lake and sights of the south. Sara would love the visits so she could cook up a big meal for everyone to enjoy. Sara was a hard-working mother who was very charitable with her church and other groups. She gave of her time and talents selflessly through the years, volunteering often at PTA, Church, Oconee Memorial Hospital in Seneca, the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army. Over the years, her hobbies were collecting cookbooks and antiques. Sara loved the big band music of her youth and classic movies. She also enjoyed watching her favorite sitcoms on TV.
Family was the very heart of Sara Bennett, and in them she found her greatest joy, even with the loss of her daughter at a young age due to health issues. Sara never required much in life. As long as she had the love of family by her side, she was a content and happy woman. Deeply loved, she will be missed and fondly remembered in the hearts of many.
Sara M. Bennett, 87, Fort Wayne, and formerly of Seneca, S.C., passed away at 4:36 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14, at The Hearth at Sycamore Village, Fort Wayne.
Survivors include her husband: Richard Bennett, Fort Wayne; sons: Bill (Lisa) Bennett, Columbia City; and Bob (Kris) Bennett, Ashland, Ohio; her sisters: Margie Poepoe, Union, N.J.; Gloria Samartino, Piscataway, N.J.; and Cecile (Dan) Surman, Hackensack, N.J.; six grandchildren and one great-grandson. She was preceded in death by her parents: Benjamin; and Mary Tenaglia; her daughter: Nancy Bennett; and sister: Toni Freda.
Friends may call from noon to 2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17, at DeMoney-Grimes, a Life Story Funeral Home, Columbia City. Funeral services for Sara will follow immediately at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17, at the funeral home. Memorial contributions in memory of Sara may be made to the American Red Cross.