BENNE, Irene Gertrude (Classen), died peacefully at 103 years old on December 31, 2021. Irene was born on July 5, 1918 on the family farm in Spencer, Nebraska. She was the youngest of seven children and her parents, George and Mary Classen, were German immigrant homesteaders. After high school, Irene moved to West Point, Nebraska where she met and married Dallas Benne in 1936. Together they raised three children, Robert, Carol and Kenneth. Their life revolved around family, church, athletics and providing educational opportunities for their children.
Eventually, Dal and Irene bought and managed a very successful Dairy Queen. They worked nine months of the year from dawn to dusk, on every day of the week, and eventually sold their business after years of hard work. They decided to move closer to their family and in 1978 they moved to Springfield, Ohio.
Family, church and sports continued to be Irene's passions. A Lutheran her entire life, Irene had a life-long, faith-filled spirit and was devoted to her church. She was a faithful volunteer and first-class Quilter at Grace Lutheran Church, she volunteered at Oesterlen Services for Youth, was a proud Nebraska Huskers Fan and a huge Wittenberg Tigers Fan who tried to attend every Wittenberg home football and basketball game while also attending the various sporting (musical and theatrical) activities of her nearby grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even into her 90's Irene hosted and cooked the Thanksgiving Day celebration for the entire Benne Clan. After, and including, her 90th Birthday, her family was able to celebrate her life by gathering in Springfield for almost every birthday, including her 103rd!
Irene loved children and dogs and was an extraordinary baby-sitter and family dog-sitter. They, in turn, loved her. She especially loved her 9 grandchildren (Kristin, Philip, Michael, Nicholas, Steve, Katherine, Christopher, David, and Brad) and her 18 great- grandchildren (Dylan, Linnea, Kai, Drew, Alex, Max, Ian, Elizabeth, Ryan, Rachel, Sarah, John, William, Charlie Y., Ava, Samuel, Grayson, and Charlie M). In addition to them, Irene is survived by her sons and daughters-in-law, Robert (Joanna) and Kenneth (Patricia), son-in-law, Floyd Erickson, and special great-nieces, Connie, Bonnie and Lonnie. Her husband, Dal, died in 1997 and her daughter, Carol Benne Erickson died in 1999.
Small in stature, independent, hard-working, disciplined, stoic, faithful to her church and family, Irene leaves a mighty legacy. She will be missed but never forgotten. Memorial donations may be made to Wittenberg University, Grace Lutheran Church or Clark Memorial Home for Women.
Final arrangements for Irene's Celebration of Life will be decided at-a-later date.