Lorene Lavone (Seales) Benham, 94, passed away on May 11, 2022.
Lorene was a dedicated and beloved teacher for almost 40 years. Throughout her life, Lorene regularly kept in touch with many of her former students, writing and receiving countless cards and letters. Lorene was privileged to be involved in many, many important events in her students’ lives and the lives of her former students’ children. Lorene began her teaching career in Hartley, TX, in 1949, not too far from where she was born. Her next teaching appointment was in 1951 in Montrose, CO, where she taught grades 4 – 6. After moving to Amarillo in 1955, Lorene taught at Alice Landergin, Will Rodgers, and Belmar elementary schools. Lorene spent the bulk of her career teaching the third grade. She loved her “third graders,” and they surely loved her. Lorene received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from West Texas State College.
Lorene was an adventurous, loving, and giving person who enjoyed traveling and spending time with her many dear, dear friends. She also loved her Seales, Crain, Wiseman, and Scalf kinfolk, taking every opportunity to spend time with family. Lorene was affectionately known as “Mom B” by the loving, extended family of her long-time friend Judy Storrs. Lorene was active in the Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA) service sorority for decades and gave freely of her time to many activities and causes. She was a long-time member of Friendship Baptist Church (now Tradewinds Baptist) in Amarillo. Lorene also loved to bake. She most often showed her love by gifting her cakes and cookies to those that loved and cared for her. Surely Lorene’s snickerdoodles and molasses sugar cookies are known the world over.
In November of 2019, after living in Amarillo for 64 years, Lorene relocated to Blacksburg, VA. Lorene is survived by her son Brian Benham of Blacksburg, VA, and his spouse Karen Scalf-Benham. She is also survived by her sister Pauline Woolsey, her spouse Harold, of Canyon, TX, and three nieces and nephews. Lorene was predeceased by her husband J. Weldon Benham (1991) and her parents Frank and Olga (Wiseman) Seales.
To honor Lorene’s legacy as a beloved teacher, the family is asking that donations be made to the Maasai Education Foundation. The Maasai Education Foundation (MEF) is a non-profit based in Virginia that was created to support the construction of the Engaruka English Medium Primary School (EEMPS). EEMPS is a boarding school that is dedicated to educating Maasai youth in English, pre-school through 7th grade. The school is located in rural east Africa in Engaruka, Tanzania. Lorene’s son and daughter-in-law are founding members of MEF and sit on the MEF Board of Directors. Lorene’s son, a professor at Virginia Tech, regularly leads students on multi-week, service-learning trips to EEMPS. Donations in honor of Lorene will be used to build a dorm wing dedicated to Lorene. Tax-deductible donations can be made via check to the Maasai Education Foundation, 345 Woods Lane, Newport VA, 24128-4022, or online via the MEF PayPal Giving Fund (https://paypal.com/us/fundraiser/charity/2457198).
A memorial service honoring Lorene’s life will be held in Amarillo, TX, in the near future. To receive word about the memorial, please send your name and contact information to Brian Benham at 3475 Evergreen Trail, Blacksburg, VA 24060 or email@example.com.