Erwin J. Benka, 84

Erwin J. Benka, age 84, of Enon, Ohio, formerly of Hartford, passed away Wednesday, July 18, 2012, surrounded by his loving family. Erv was loved by many, and was a friend to all. He will be remembered most for his sense of humor, shining smile, energetic spirit, and kind heart. Erv loved bringing people together to enjoy life.

He was born June 26, 1928, in Cudahy to Paul and Stella (Barnowski) Benka. Erv was united in marriage to Jean E. Collins on June 11, 1960, at St. Kilianís Catholic Church. She preceded him in death in 2006.

Erwin attended Holy Family Grade School, Cudahy High School and St. Norbert College. Erwin was a Korean War veteran in the Air Force, he was awarded the Japan Occupational medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean Service Medal. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a masterís degree in guidance, counseling, and administration, with a minor in philosophy. He also attended the school of speech and drama at Marquette University.

Erv was a former English instructor, forensic coach, photo club and drama advisor at Oconto Falls High School. He then became a faculty member at the Hartford Union High School where he taught English and Biology. One of his proudest achievements was becoming a guidance counselor and mentoring many young students with their future careers. As a staff member, he served as a summer school administrator, directed the forensic program and the National Forensic League, served as an advisor for the drama department and the yearbook. He was a football and golf coach. He was inducted into the High School Golf Coaches Hall of Fame in 1991. Erv is also fondly remembered as the booming energetic voice of Hartford Orioles, where he announced many football games and swim meets.

Erv was involved in many community and church activities: The Hartford Players, First National Bank Trapshooting Team, Hartford Conversation Club, Lions Club, Hartford Country Club, Hartford Booster Club, Hartford Christmas Committee, Holy Name member, VFW and American Legion member, volunteer at Angelís Grace Hospice, a youth golf program instructor, enjoyed acting in and directing many plays and being a Little Switz ski patroller. He also participated in: Coupleís Bridge Club, Menís Poker Club, was a proud member of the Maple Syrup Gang, and one of the founding fathers of BSRU Lodge, where many hunting, skiing, and family memories were made. Erv loved the great North Woods and his tree stand. He saw God in nature and in each person he met.

Erv was a part time car salesman, owner of ďBenka Painters,Ē and a life time Packerís Fan. In his retirement, he enjoyed working at the Hartford Country Club Pro Shop and scheduling tee times. He moved to Enon, Ohio in July of 2007 and continued his zest for bringing people together by planning social events at the Willows Condominium Complex in Enon.

Erwin survived by his three daughters, Maureen (Bud) McCormick of Xenia, Ohio, Kathryn (Christian) Benedict of Springfield, Ohio, and Susan Benka of Shawno; grandchildren Aidan Erwin, Evan, Aileen, Liam, Ian, and Eoin McCormick, and Bailey and Delaney Benedict; sister Bernadette (Shawn) Manser and brother Bill (Janet) Benka, both of Arizona. He is further survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his beloved wife Jean, sister Dorothy (James) Relihan, brothers Raymond (Lynda) and Paul (Karen) Benka.
Erv was devoted to the church all of his life. He was an altar server as a young boy, and became a Eucharistic minister, lector, Rosary leader and usher at St. Kilianís and Mary Help of Christianís in Ohio, for several years. Mass of Celebration Wednesday, July 25, 2012, at 11 a.m. at St. Kilian Catholic Church (264 W. State St. Hartford) with the Rev. David LaPlante officiating. Visitation Tuesday, July 2,4 at the funeral home from 4-7 p.m. Additional visitation Wednesday at church from 10-11 a.m. Rosary service and The Chaplet of Divine Mercy Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. and vigil service at 6:30 p.m. at the funeral home.

Interment with military honors at St. Kilian Cemetery following the Mass.
In memory of Erwin, memorials to Holy Hill: Shrine of Our Lady and to The Association of Marion Helpers: The Divine Mercy Devotion. (P.O. Box 716 Stockbridge, MA 01262.) are appreciated.

To our family and friends, your kindness and concern have meant so very much and will always be remembered.

The Shimon Funeral Home is serving the family. (262)673-9500.