Irvin Benge, 91, died April 22 at a VA-affiliated hospital in Grantsburg, Wisc. Services will be held Monday, April 29, 2013 at Waverly Lutheran Church of rural Trimont. Interment of cremains will be at Waverly Lutheran Church Cemetery and The Benge Family Farm.
Irvin Carol Benge was born January 26, 1922 to Alfred and Margaret (Fishburn) Benge on the family farm five miles east of Ormsby. Irvin was proud to say he slept in the same bedroom where he was born. He was baptized and confirmed November 19, 1936 at Waverly Lutheran Church and remained an active member throughout his life. He was a 1940 graduate of Truman High School. Irvin was a World War II veteran, enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps in early 1942. As a member of the 8th Army Air Corps, he was the sole high school graduate selected to join the first class of college graduates for training in the new, top-secret Radar service. Attached to the 482nd Bomb Group, he became a radar specialist with a B-17 Pathfinder bomber crew conducting missions out of RAF Alconbury Air Field in England, using the H2X radar which Irvin helped design. In the final months of the war he served at ground-based radar stations in France and Germany near the front lines. During the Battle of the Bulge, a turning point of the war, Irvin’s radar unit accurately directed bombers to important enemy targets and greatly aided the defeat of Hitler’s Nazi forces. After the war, he returned to the family farm and raised purebred Hereford cattle with his father and his brother Francis “Frant” Benge. On June 30, 1950 he was united in marriage to Celeste Timm at West Sveadahl Swedish Lutheran Church in Watonwan County. They made their home on the Benge family farm, where they raised their five children. In addition to crop and cattle farming, Irvin loved to sell. He first sold cars, then became a top salesman for Norling Brothers Silos and Koehn Farm Equipment Company. Well into his 80s he continued to sell siding for Schmidt Siding Company of Mankato. Deer hunting for Irv was a yearly ritual for over 70 years. He loved to hunt with Uncle Donny and Harold and Merle. For 40 years, he hunted with his “favorite son” Scott, and later with grandsons Matthew, Luke and Wyatt at their family’s “Boomy Deer Cabin” where they also cut the family Christmas tree near Kabekona Corner south of Bemidji. The chicken suppers at Rose’s house made deer hunting even more special. Irv also enjoyed fishing on Lake George. Foremost in his life was his family. He loved to give his grandchildren rides in his Gator around the farm and out to Crocus Hill. With Celeste and kids, and later his grandkids, he held an annual tradition of gathering on a farm pasture hillside to watch the sunset on the shortest and longest days of the year. He was a steward of the land who died on Earth Day. For more than 20 years he provided a week-long, all-family summer vacation at northern Minnesota resorts. He was a loyal friend and a faithful communicator. He regularly visited or phoned his friends who couldn’t get out as much as they aged. He served on the Waverly Lutheran Church board and was a member of the VFW and American Legion.
Page 2 of 2 - Irvin is survived by his wife Celeste; children, Linda Benge (Steve Briggs) of Grantsburg Wisc., Leanne Benge Savereide (John) of St. Paul, Lynette Benge (Mark Anderson) of River Falls, Wisc., Scott Irvin (Suzanne) of Lakeville, Laurie Benge (Brad Jones) of Bovey; 12 grandchildren, Lenora, Lydia and Liliana Benge Briggs, Louisa, Annie and Linnea Savereide, Ellen and Ruthie Anderson-benge; Matthew, Luke, Wyatt Duke Irvin and Elizabeth Benge.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Raymond, Frant and Alvin.