Cover photo for Dorothy M. Benson's Obituary
Dorothy M. Benson Profile Photo
1921 Dorothy 2022

Dorothy M. Benson

October 5, 1921 — October 31, 2022

Dorothy M. Benson, age 101 of Willmar, passed away Monday, Oct. 31, at CentraCare Care Center in Willmar.


A celebration of life service will be held at a later date sometime in the summer of 2023.  Arrangements are entrusted to the Peterson Brothers Funeral Home.


Dorothy was born October 5, 1921 to (Clarence) Roy and Elizabeth (Gauer) Watson in Meadow, South Dakota. She died October 31, 2022 in Willmar, Minnesota at the age of 101. She attended grades 1-7 in Meadow Central School, in Meadow, South Dakota, grade 8 in Grandin, North Dakota, and after the family had relocated to the Lake Lillian, Minnesota area, grades 9-12 in Bird Island, Minnesota. After graduating from High School, she studied 1 year at BIOLA (Bible Institute of Los Angeles) in California.


Dorothy accepted Christ as her Savior when she was 15 years old. Her favorite Bible verse was Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”


She married Harold Burton Benson on June 1, 1946 in the Lake Lillian Baptist Church and they lived in Grove City, Minnesota for almost all of their married life.


Dorothy and Harold had 4 children: Dennis, Linda, Jerome, and Arthur. A few years after Harold passed away, Dorothy moved to Willmar where she worked for her son, Art, in his music store, Sound Image. She took on the responsibility for ordering and organizing all of the printed music that was required by the many piano teachers in the area, and became very well acquainted with them. She also helped with the Sound Image School of Music, which offered lessons to many piano students.


Dorothy went to live at Rice Care Center in 2015 at the age of 93. She loved her new home in Sophia House and soon became loved by the people there, both residents and staff. The name has since been changed to CentraCare – Willmar Care Center. She remained there for seven and a half years until she passed from this life to her heavenly home.


She is survived by her three children: Dennis (Darlene) Benson of Willmar, Linda (Garland) Lewis of Manhattan, Kansas, Arthur (Annette) Benson of Willmar; eleven grandchildren: Heidi (Jason) Sheard, Mark (Mandy) Benson, Brian (Cara) Benson, Rachel (Mark) Luna, Anita (Brian) Brunson, Diana Garren, Kevin (Carla) Lewis, Ryan (Allie) Lewis, Ashlee (Lee) Fader, Anya (Tyler) Solyntjes, and Alexander Benson; and twenty-two great grandchildren: Madeline Sheard, Watson Sheard, Carter Sheard, Niles Benson, Sawyer Benson, Talitha Benson, Bode Benson, Haley Benson, Avery Benson, David Luna, Zayin Brunson, Kaden Brunson, Isaac Brunson, Spencer Garren, Trenton Garren, Ainsley Lewis, Brayden Lewis, Camden Lewis, Layna Lewis, Wren Lewis, Beckett Fader, and Willow Solyntjes. She is also survived by her brother-in-law, Dan Smith, sister-in-law, Louella Benson, sister-in-law, Betty Watson, and cousins, nieces, and nephews.


She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Harold, her son, Jerome, her 8 siblings, and 3 siblings’ spouses: Doris (Donald) Peterson, Ruth (Al) Cazer, Ruby Watson, Gene (Karen) Watson, Eleanor Smith, Dalton Watson, half-brother Alvin Watson, and half-sister Neoma Gordon.


Dorothy was a long-time member of First Baptist Church in Grove City where she enjoyed teaching Sunday School and was active in the Women’s Ministry. Together, Dorothy and Harold worked with the Church Youth Group for many years. She also loved attending work week and Women’s Retreat weekend at Trout Lake Camp whenever she could. After moving from Grove City in 1985, she attended and became a member of First Baptist Church in Willmar (currently called Refuge Church). There she became active in the LAFF group (Life After Fifty Five) and helped to organize and staff the church library. She also signed up to be a prayer partner for a young girl in the GMG (Girls Meeting God) program on Wednesday nights. She personally supported various missionaries over the years.


Dorothy was a follower of God and regularly prayed for each member of her family. She invited all of them who lived in the area to come for supper every Wednesday night before the kids’ church activities. She frequently made a hot dish and because her nickname was Dot, these meals became known as “Dot Dish”. This tradition continued for a time at the nursing home as we gathered there to eat with her once a week. Her family was very important to Dot and we all loved her very much – “Bunches” actually! Some of the words family members used to describe her are: loving, kind, disciplined, diligent, thoughtful, accepting, funny, fun-loving, and adventurous. She was always willing to try something new and was always ready for fun and laughter. She became a Facebook user at the age of 91 and kept in touch by email. She will be missed by all her family, friends, and the staff and residents at Sophia House. She was often appropriately referred to as “Sweet Dorothy”.


Ah-h-h, Sweet, Sweet, Dorothy…we’ll never forget you.


Dorothy’s family would like to thank the staff and members

of Refuge Church for their prayers, cards, and visits;

and the staff of Sophia House and CentraCare Hospice

for their love and care.



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