Erika Ursula (Pienitz) Benson passed away, Thursday, September 22, 2016, at the side of her husband Arthur and son Thomas at Covenant Village, Turlock.
Erika was born as the third child to Erich and Elisabeth Pienitz in Berlin, Germany, where her father worked as an insurance attorney. The family fled the city’s bombing in 1942 and moved to Grandmother Pienitz’ house in Wernigerode at the Harz Mountains. There she witnessed the town’s liberation by American troops in April 1945. In 1948, her father relocated the family to nearby Quedlinburg where he worked as a judge. Coming into conflict with the East German Communist government through her father’s rulings, they fled to West Germany in 1953.
In 1954, they settled in Wiesbaden where Erika began vocational training as a secretary. She met Private Arthur Benson at the Christian Serviceman’s Club in Wiesbaden in June of 1957. They were married on September 1, 1958 in Frankfurt and moved to Michigan later that year.
Art worked as a teacher in Beaverton as Erika held a secretary’s position right up to the day their first son Alan was born in Gladwin in September 1959. The family relocated to Montague where their second son Thomas was born in Shelby, November 1960. One year later, they moved first to Soesterberg, the Netherlands, and then Wiesbaden, Germany, where Art taught for the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) school system. They moved to Berlin in 1965 so that the boys could attend the bilingual John F. Kennedy School there. In 1966 Erika became a naturalized U.S. citizen, and in December of that year, she had their third son Benjamin.
Erika was an active member of JFKS Parents Association and the American Church in Berlin. In the 70’s, Erika established a home daycare program, caring for about 60 children over more than two decades.
In the 90’s, they first moved in with Alan and his children to their new house, and then to their own apartment. Later they also took care of Erika’s mother in Frankfurt, Germany.
At the turn of the century, they finally settled in their beloved Red Apple house by Lake Michigan in Manistee, Michigan. From there they chose the Covenant Village in Turlock, California for their final retirement.
Erika is survived by Arthur, her husband of 58 years; their three sons with their respective spouses Alan & Edith, Thomas & Elizabeth, Benjamin & Juliana; Brother Achim Pienitz and two nieces; ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.