Vera Bernice Benzel (Thorson), age 102, died Wednesday, November 3, 2021 at McKenna Crossing, Prior Lake.
Survived by son, David (Cynthia) of Groveland, FL; daughter, Ann Rieck of Prior Lake; grandchildren, Travis (Katy) Rieck, Inver Grove Heights, Kyle Rieck (Brittany Scott), Chaska, Chris (Ellen) Rieck, Jordan, Tarah (Cobe) Mikacich, Orlando, FL, Tyler (Katie) Benzel, Winter Park, FL;
great-grandchildren, Emma and Cameron Rieck, Inver Grove Heights, Hanna (Austin Even) Rieck, Waterloo, IA, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Preceded in death by her parents, Gilbert and Emma Thorson; husband, Jerry; son-in-law, Lowell Rieck; seven brothers, Earl, Arthur, Ervin, Elmer, Vernon (two in infancy) and three sisters, Gladys Pingel, Nellie Lloyd and Elaine Henry.
Vera was born in the Town of Greenville, WI on February 27, 1919, daughter of Gilbert and Emma Thorson. She graduated from Neenah High School, attended business school, and worked in Oshkosh for a time, then came to Minneapolis and attended Augsburg University, where she sang in the choir and graduated cum laude in 1945 with majors in English and Music. In the fall of 1945, she was offered an instructor position in the newly organized Business Department at Augsburg and taught courses there for four years.
From 1951 to 1964 Vera was director of music at Grace E.U.B. Church in NE Minneapolis, and from 1964 to 1977 at Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church in So. Minneapolis. This was a labor of love for her. In 1966 she took a teaching position at Minnesota School of Business and taught several courses over the following twenty years until her retirement in 1986.
Vera was an inspiration to all who knew her. She lived her Christian faith and was an excellent role model for aging gracefully, with dignity and with purpose. Until she was 97 years old, she was active in four book clubs, walked a mile or so each day, played the piano, and completed the crossword puzzle in the newspaper. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
A visitation will be held on Friday, November 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Ballard Sunder Funeral & Cremation (4565 Pleasant St. SE) in Prior Lake and one hour prior to the service at church. Celebration of Life service at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 13 at Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church (3611 N. Berens Rd NW) in Prior Lake. Vera will be laid to rest at Credit River Cemetery in Prior Lake.
Memorials may be given to the Benzel Family Scholarship Fund at Augsburg University, Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church or Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church.
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