Thursday, January 01, 2004

Obituary: Mary (Petratta) Bench

MADISON - Mary Bench, passed from this life in her sleep on Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2003. She was born in Sicily on March 31, 1917, to George and Rose (Salerno) Petratta. Mary came to the United States when she was five years old, settling with her parents and infant brother, Nick in Chicago. Her father died shortly after. Her mother then married George Incorvino and there was three sons born of that marriage, Vito, Ben and George Jr. They moved to the Greenbush neighborhood where Mary and her brothers were raised. Mary graduated from Central High School and began working for the Dutch Maid Ice Cream Company located in the lower level of the First National Bank Building at the corner of Park Street and University Avenue. Mary met Rolland Guilligan during this time and they were married on April 22, 1938. Of this marriage, two daughters, Rosemary and Joyce Ellen, were born. Rolland was in poor health and he died on May 21, 1946, leaving HER to raise two very small daughters. She continued working at the Dutch Maid, but moved to a new location on Atwood Avenue. She met Charles Bench and they married on June 7, 1948. Mary went to Madison Area Technical College and took classes to enable her to gain employment at Oscar Mayer and Company. Mary and Chuck build a new home on the northeast side of Madison in 1953, where Shari Louise and Cynthia Lynn were born. Mary continued working at Oscar Mayer until her retirement in 1982. Chuck died on March 30, 1993. Mary continued living alone until her health failed and she moved to an assisted living facility. Mary is survived by four daughters, Rosemary (Charles) Carr of Sauk City, Joyce (Robert) Foster of Waunakee, Shari (James) Riphon of Lodi, and Cynthia (Tim) Culp of Orem, Utah; a brother, Nick Petratta of Springdale, Ark.; 11 grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; AND several nieces and nephews. Her parents; step-father; three step-brothers; an infant step-sister, Sarah; two husbands; and a granddaughter, Karen Oetzelpreceded her in death. Services were held at the Gunderson East Funeral Home on Monona Drive on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2003, with interment at Roselawn Cemetery.

Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on January 1, 2004

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