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Dixie Lee Benke

October 12, 1936 — September 6, 2023


Dixie Lee Benke

Dixie Lee Benke, 86 of Sawyer passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023 at West Woods of Bridgman.


A memorial service will be announced later. Online condolences accepted at  


Dixie was born October 12, 1936 in Sawyer, to the late Henry and Clara (Lange) Benke.  She was the first of four daughters, all born at home within five years, in Sawyer with old Doc Corey in attendance. Mom loved to tell the story how he told Henry, "If this last one is a boy, it's on the house!"  Nope, another girl.


Dixie attended elementary school in Sawyer, and her best lifelong friend was named Dixie Lou, born a few days difference right around the corner.  It was Dixie Lee and Dixie Lou, imagine that.  Henry started the garbage business in Sawyer, using his dump trucks from his excavation business.  At the ripe old age of seven, Mom was tall enough to see over the steering wheel - so he'd put it in 1st, and walk behind the truck throwing in the bags while she steered down the streets.  When I-94 was being built, Grandpa had his teenage girls taking loads of sand in the dump trucks, to build up the road.  The other men were mind-boggled seeing this!  These girls knew how to work hard!

Mom has fond memories of Grandpa and Grandma taking them to visit her grandma on Lange Road in Bridgman.  Grandpa would tie sleds to the back of the dump truck and drive slowly the five miles or so on back roads, in super snowy weather, with the girls in tow! They had a lot of fun in life.


After her divorce and  her two children were grown, Mom set out to start a new chapter.  She was very determined and went to college, earning an accounting degree and getting a wonderful job at All Phase Electric.  She bought herself a little house and made it her own cute little cottage, complete with pink and mauve colors inside. She loved to spend time on her spacious white deck, sitting in her Adirondack chairs and watching her beloved nature pass by, it was idyllic to her.  She loved convertibles, especially for visits with her kids.  Dixie was a talented Christmas Cookie master!  At dessert time we would eagerly await, (and be mind-boggled!) as tub after tub of a variety of cookies were brought out.  


Quilting became her passion early in her marriage, and she created over 30 completely handsewn quilts, making one special for each grandson.  This quote seems especially perfect for her: 


 "Once this best-day-ever happens to you, you're going to look back and realize that everything had meaning.  Everything.  Your good moments were like swatches of fabric.  Your painful moments were little pin pricks from a sewing needle, stitching you together like a quilt.  And on your final day, you'll see this quilt and think to yourself: "My God, wasn't I beautiful?""  Sean Dietrich, Sep 2021


Yes you were, Mom, yes, you were.  


Survivors include her daughter: Belinda (Eric) Shriver; grandchildren: Steve (Erika) Hunding, Nick Hunding, Christopher (Charlene) Hunding, and Nathan Shriver; great grandchildren: Liam and Clover Hunding; and a sister: Jean (Bill)Matthews.


Dixie was also preceded in death by her son: Gary Pinkston and two sisters: Nancy Luther and Doneita Benke.

To order memorial trees in memory of Dixie Lee Benke, please visit our tree store.


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