Karen Kay Widmer Bentz, 79, of Carroll, formerly of Jefferson, passed away on Dec. 21.
Karen was born on March 12, 1941, to Dr. Dale Widmer and Barbara (Baldon) Widmer in Manchester.
Karen attended Paullina High School in Paullina, where her father had a medical office and Karen’s mother was his nurse. Karen had many stories about her father delivering the town’s babies in the middle of the night.
Karen was always a very active teenager and her primary sport was golf. As a high school sophomore, she placed fourth in the state and received a bronze medal from the National Junior Girls Championship in Colorado.
Karen always talked about how her mom wasn’t able to chaperone her to the tournament, but then she showed up as a surprise.
Karen held the state’s record for the longest drive for many years.
Karen kept up her golfing by coaching others “how to grip” and by playing at the local Jefferson Golf and Country Club tournaments. She made great friends and has many trophies from this time, too. Karen typically would get up early to get in a round of golf before most people were getting ready for the day. This was a practice she kept from her teenage years and well into her adult years. Karen graduated from Paullina High School in 1959.
After graduation, Karen attended the University of South Dakota and later graduated with a degree in physical education from Buena Vista College in Storm Lake. A sign of the times, Karen would often tell the story of the Jefferson School calling to ask her mother about accepting the teaching job in Jefferson.
Karen was hired and moved to Jefferson in 1963. Karen taught physical education. Many former students credit her with getting girls interested in organized sports such as gymnastics, golf and basketball.
Karen met her future husband, Richard (Dick) Bentz, while teaching at the school in Cooper. Karen and Dick were married on June 20, 1965, at the United Methodist Church in Jefferson surrounded by family and many of their teacher friends.
Karen and Dick liked to entertain friends and soon started a family. Their first son, Dennis, arrived in December 1968. Ron arrived in December of 1970. Dennis and Ron were busy boys and kept Karen hopping. Karen played in golf tournaments and created many pieces of ceramics during this time.
Karen went back to work as a teacher’s aide in the special education department of Jefferson Middle School in 1978. Karen enjoyed being at school with students and teachers and enjoyed supporting her students in their activities. Karen worked until her retirement in 2007.
After this, Karen traveled to see her children and spent time decorating, golfing, gardening and having lunch with her retired teacher friends once a month. She loved going anywhere out to lunch and bargain shopping.
Karen is survived by her two sons: Dennis Bentz, of Wayne, Neb.; and Ronald Bentz and his wife Teresa, of Jefferson; and two granddaughters: Alexandra Blackburn, of Omaha; and Julie Bentz, of Ames.
Karen was preceded in death by her parents, Dr. Dale Widmer and Barbara Baldon Widmer. Karen’s husband, Richard (Dick) Bentz, passed away in 1999. Karen was also preceded by Sam Nuzum, her mother’s second husband. Karen will be happy for the reunion with her husband, parents and friends.
Services were held Dec. 28 at the First United Methodist Church in Jefferson, with words of comfort by the Rev. Julie Poulsen.
Music included “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace” (Becky Greiner, accompanist; Sheila Pound, soloist).
Casket bearers were Dave Bohnet, Kevin Richards, Tom Braun, Gerry Stein, Roger Olhausen and Dick Green.
Interment was in the Jefferson Cemetery.
Memorials can be sent to: Special Olympics of Iowa, 551 SE Dovetail Road, Grimes, IA 50111.
Services were arranged by the Slininger-Schroeder Funeral Home of Jefferson.