Thu, Dec. 05

Obituary: Elinor Simson Benes

Elinor Simson Benes

Elinor Simson Benes 1924-2017

Elinor Simson Benes passed away peacefully of natural causes at her home in Cottonwood, AZ on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, with family and loved ones present.

She was 92.

She was born on October 5, 1924 in Yreka, California to Charles Henry Simson and Catherine Cave Simson.

Growing up in the depression, she and her sister Dorothy lived in different areas of California with their mother Catherine as she found work as a teacher.

Elinor met Norman Stanley Benes at a USO dance in San Jose; they were married in 1945 and together they had four children. Elinor graduated with a B.A. from San Jose State College in 1945 and went on to attain an M.S. at Arizona State University in 1961, where she was a member of Phi Kappa Phi.

She completed a Ph.D. in 1966 at University of California, Davis and was a member of the Society of the Sigma Xi. She taught in the Biology Department at California State University, Sacramento for 23 years and retired as a professor emeritus. Elinor and Norman divorced in 1971.

In 1976, she married Marion Murphy, a fellow member of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento. After Marion’s death in 1987, she retired to Carson City, NV and then moved to Cottonwood, AZ in 2001. She was a dedicated gardener and an active member of Master Gardeners for over 30 years. She enjoyed travelling and visited Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Kenya.

With Marion, she toured England and Australia and they spent her sabbatical year in New Orleans, LA at Tulane University. She loved having animals around her and throughout her life maintained a home with a variety of species in residence.

She also volunteered at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and Arizona State University Extension after retirement.

Elinor is survived by her sister Dorothy Thom of Walnut Creek, CA, her children Greg Benes (Susi) of Modesto, CA, Heather Benes (Jere Calef) of Mojave, CA, Michelle Benes (Tim Pelton) of Cottonwood, AZ, and Francine Bettger (Brian) of Rancho Cucamonga, CA, her niece Kathleen Mesick, three grandchildren Seth West, Steve Benes and Morgan Mueller, six great-grandchildren, and one great-great-granddaughter. Memorial services will be privately held.

Memorial donations may be made in Elinor’s name to the Desert Tortoise Council or to Berea College

An online memorial page is available at

Information provided by survivors.