Obituaries Archive

Obituaries » DeVere Mildred Benson

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May 21, 1935 - February 28, 2024

Services will take place Saturday, May 11, 2024 at Joldersma & Klein Funeral Home, 917 South Burdick Street,  10:00 am Visitation, 11:00 am Memorial Service. DeVere encouraged others to optimize their potential through education. In lieu of flowers, charitable donations can be made to WMU’s Essential Needs Program. A division of WMU’s Department of Student Affairs, the program supports students who need food or self-care items or are experiencing emergency financial hardship through the generosity of WMU faculty, staff, students, alumni and the greater Kalamazoo community.  To make a gift, please make checks payable to “WMU Foundation” with Essential Needs Fund in the memo line (mail to WMU Foundation Gift Processing, Western Michigan University, 1903 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo MI 49008-5403). You can also give online:  

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DeVere Mildred (Webeck) Benson passed peacefully, enveloped in her family’s love on February 28, 2024.

Born May 21, 1935, weighing 3 lbs. 9 ounces, DeVere had a 50/50 chance of survival.  She lived 88 beautiful, impactful years.  Mom, Registered Nurse, Nana/Grandmama, giver of time and treasure, DeVere made each place better.

A 1953 graduate of Kewanee High School in Illinois, DeVere began her leadership journey as President of  the Tri–Hi-Y Service Organization, President of MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship), President of the Bi-Phy-Chem (Biology-Physics-Chemistry) Club and board member of the YMCA.  Choir, Band (drummer), Glee Club, Student Council, Senior Class Play, and Yearbook Sponsorship Staff rounded out her days.

A year at Monmouth College in Illinois (1953-54) was a joyous and hectic time for DeVere. Aside from a full class schedule, she participated in the Drum and Bagpipe Corps,  the Gospel Team, and the Rifle Team. Because her father did not believe in social sororities, DeVere “went Independent”  and was awarded “Outstanding Leader of the Independents” by her peers. She received bids from two sororities despite not rushing and accepted Pi Beta Phi.

DeVere graduated in1958 from the Methodist Hospital of Central Illinois in Peoria, where she fulfilled the roles of Vice President and subsequently President of her class before earning her Registered Nursing degree.

In the mid 1980’s, DeVere joined her daughters at Western Michigan University to further her education.

She enjoyed a long life of work, and with every endeavor truly gave her heart and soul. She would tell the story of her first job delivering newspapers on a large route, where one of her customers would meet her with a quarter for the subscription and a nickel for her pocket.  Leadership, caring for others, service, and creating a sense of family wherever she worked were all woven into her identity.  Her career as a Registered Nurse took place in settings as varied as Pediatrics, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Nephrology, Oncology, Neurology and NeuroSurgery, Nursing Home Administration, and Psychiatric Nursing. She won numerous accolades as well as state and local awards for her dedication to staff and patients.

Raising three children on her own was DeVere’s greatest joy.  She gave everything she had to provide for her family. Theirs was a warm, creative, quirky (only family to have a monkey and skunk), inclusive home.  She once said that the love she didn’t experience herself as a child, she channeled into her children. She was deeply involved in every aspect of motherhood and allowed her children to bloom in their own perfect time.  She led Cub Scouts and Brownies and could often be seen at Angling Road Elementary volunteering in the library and classroom or spearheading PTA events.

DeVere was a devoted, loving Nana/Grandmama to her six grandchildren. Her laugh was infectious, her wise counsel unmatched, and her love for them boundless. She was so good at listening and asking questions.  One of her great joys was seeing her grandchildren flourish and cheering them on in their life endeavors. She was so very proud of the wonderful people they are.

DeVere’s happy place was Lake Michigan, which she visited every summer to enjoy good food, rum raisin ice cream, browsing in boutiques, and of course taking in sand, sun and that sparkling aquamarine view.  She loved reflecting on the expansive horizon to gain greater perspective.

DeVere was a fighter and a survivor.  She battled polio, cancer, addiction and other serious health events. She said she experienced “The Hand of God” many times in her life.

During the final chapter of her time here, DeVere was so grateful for the loving care provided by her family, Sarah Gerstner, a team of caregivers, visiting friends, and Hospice.

DeVere is survived by son Michael Benson, daughters D’Arbra (Bruce) Fetzer and Nicolle (Steve) France; grandchildren Della, Rose, and Grace Fetzer;  Mikey, Eric, and Elenzie France; as well as the people in her community who loved and cherished “Miss DeVere”.  She will be missed beyond measure.