Cherry Blossoms
Official Obituary of

Mary (Sliger) Benson

June 3, 1959 ~ March 5, 2024 (age 64) 64 Years Old
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Mary Benson Tribute

Mary Sliger Benson passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, March 5th surrounded by her family. 

Mary was born in June 1959 in Laurium, Michigan to William and Doris Sliger. She spent her early childhood in eastern Montana, living in a government camp for the engineers of Yellowtail Dam before moving to Wilbur, WA where William worked on the expansion of Grand Coulee Dam. She grew up with her brothers Billy, Jeff, and Doug, and her sister Suzie, and graduated from Wilbur High School in 1977.

She studied education at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA, earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, and became an elementary school teacher. She loved teaching and was very good at it. She became a Certified Reading Specialist in 1988 and earned a “Distinguished Teacher Award” and “YMCA Teacher of the Year” in Spokane in 1989.

Mary married Brad Benson in 1989, and they enjoyed many skiing, camping, canoeing, and sea kayaking adventures. She continued to teach elementary school while she moved with him as his career took them to Pullman, WA, where son Connor was born in 1992, Minneapolis, MN, where son Bryce was born in 1996, San Jose, CA, and finally to Corvallis, OR in 1997, where she became a reading teacher at Wilson (now Leticia Carson) Elementary School. 

At Wilson, she created a weekly summer reading program to provide space and guidance for children at every reading level to continue learning and growing over summer break. Through the course of her career Mary helped countless children overcome their reading struggles and turned their least favorite subject into a lifelong passion. 

She organized the fundraising “Wildcat Winter Wonder Run” for the rebuilding of Wildcat Park by neighborhood volunteers in 2007 and coordinated many of the construction projects. Mary continued to grow throughout her career, continuing her education and challenging herself in new areas. She earned her Elementary School Administrative Credentials at Portland State University in 2016 and was a Literacy Specialist for the Corvallis School District until her retirement in 2020. 

Mary brought the same focus and enthusiasm to her hobbies. From March to September, she could be found tending her flower garden, moving finicky plants from spot to spot until they flourished. She loved preparing and sharing good food, with an eye for new takes on her favorite recipes as well as new dishes she’d never tried. She was an avid distance runner and, rain or shine, could be found pounding pavement and treading trails. She ran so many 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon runs that the miles are impossible to count, and she got her family to run too. She especially enjoyed the many relay runs she did with her running friends, some of them multi-day events. 

Mary raised two wonderful sons and three great dogs. She was a fantastic mother and wife, and she created a home filled with fun, warmth, and love.

We are planning a celebration of Mary’s life at Avery Park in Corvallis on Sunday, June 2.

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