Evelyn Lucille Benner was born August 1, 1926 in Scotland County, Missouri the second of three daughters of Cecil W. and Ruth Slocum Blaine. Evelyn grew up on a farm in Scotland County and attended rural schools. She graduated from Memphis, Missouri high school in 1944. After graduation, Evelyn decided to do something unusual for women at that time. A decision she often made throughout her life. Evelyn decided to farm. So, she purchased a team of horses and rented 40 acres. She worked the fields with her team and planted corn. Unfortunately, a dry summer resulted in a poor corn crop that, when sold, barely covered her expenses. Evelyn decided farming was not for her. She sold her team of horses for the money to start the next phase of her life. Although Evelyn had rarely been outside Scotland County growing up, in the fall of 1944 she got on a train and went to Kansas City. She didn’t know anyone in the city but found a place to live and a job in a war production factory. When the war ended, she took a job at Hallmark Cards where she met her husband Roy W. Benner, who retired from Hallmark in 1987 after 40 years of service. Roy and Evelyn were married on June 5, 1948 in Memphis, MO. When asked what attracted her to Roy she said “he always kept his shirt tail tucked in”. They were married for 72 years and when asked what the secret to their long marriage was, she would quickly reply “separate bathrooms!”
Evelyn and Roy had two children, Pam and Rick. Evelyn contracted and survived polio in 1952 and went on to become a skilled carpenter, building and repairing furniture, and even building four motorboats over the years for her family to take to the Lake of the Ozarks on vacation. Evelyn was also a very good mechanic and she used that skill to restore a 1966 Sunbeam Alpine for her son to drive to college, which he still has. A 1928 Buick 4-door sedan, a 55 Eldorado Cadillac and a 1954 Jaguar XK120. After her children were older, she and Roy built and managed, with another couple, a 60 bed care center in Harrisonville, Missouri which they operated for 10 years. After they sold the care center, Evelyn helped design and build two homes. The first one was a home they shared with the couple that they were partners with when managing the nursing home. It was unique in that it had a central living area and kitchen with separate bedrooms and bathrooms on each side, still allowing privacy for each couple. The second house was a beautiful earth contact home that they enjoyed for 28 years. Both had swimming pools for family and friends to enjoy! Evelyn became interested in flying and got her private pilot’s license at age 56. In retirement, she became a Mary Kay consultant, earning a pink Cadillac. Evelyn and Roy enjoyed playing golf in retirement and had the standing first tee time at the Longview Golf Course for several years. They didn’t like waiting on others so the course always let them go first. She had other things to do and couldn’t spend 4 ½ hours playing golf!
Evelyn was born into a strong Christian family and accepted Christ as her Savior at an early age. She was a dedicated Christian throughout her life, as is Roy, and together they were committed to instilling & sharing those same Christian values with their children and grandchildren. They were charter members of Monroe Avenue Baptist church and continued their membership when the church moved to Raytown and became Southview Baptist Church. Evelyn & Roy taught Sunday school for many years and both were still teaching their classes at 93 years of age. She also served as the church Trustee for many years and has often said it was the job she enjoyed the most! She was an impeccable dresser and always wore a hat to church on Sunday mornings.
Evelyn is survived by her husband of 72 years, Roy of Lee’s Summit; her daughter, Pam Gillaspie (Marty) of Greenwood, MO; and son, Rick Benner (Dianna) of Granite Bay, CA. Also surviving are grandsons, Matt Carney (Andrea) and Brando Carney (Jessica) all of Lone Jack, Mo; and granddaughters, Kylee Benner of San Francisco, CA and Lyndsey Benner of Granite Bay, CA; a bonus granddaughter, Jamie Gillaspie Rowan (Dan); bonus great-grandsons, Noah, Jack and Mars; and several nieces and nephews. Evelyn was preceded in death by her parents, two sisters, Jerri (Hillis) Baker and Margie (Dean) DeRosear.
A celebration of life will be planned at a later date. Graveside Service was held Tuesday, Dec. 15 at Mt. Moriah Cemetery South, 10507 Holmes Rd., Kansas City, MO 64131. The service was livestreamed.