Adelina Benne was born Adelina Cardenas on December 16, 1918. She passed away peacefully in her sleep on July 27, 2016. She was born in Rubio, Venezuela, a small city in the Andes area of that country. Her father was the town jeweler and her mother a housewife. Adelina was the second oldest of 9 brothers and sisters, and she has outlived them all. Adelina had many fond memories of her childhood, in particular her maternal grandparents who owned a chocolate plantation. She remembered her grandfather, Nicolas, as being a great storyteller and historian, something that influenced her greatly in her life. When she was 19, she became sick with typhoid fever and fell into a coma. During this time, she had a dream where she felt she was going to heaven. In the dream she saw Our Lady and she asked her for help, but then a church appeared and she went in to pray. Before she arrived at the church, she awoke from her long sleep, completely cured. This experience led her to a very devout life, even considering becoming a nun. She entered nursing school with the help of her favorite brother, Jose’, and graduated as an RN in 1943. This was the most important event in her life, fulfilling a childhood dream, and resulted in a long and rewarding career in nursing. After graduation, Adelina went to work for the Socony (eventually named Mobil) Oil Company, becoming head nurse at the employee’s hospital. Socony sent Adelina to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for two months to study English. There she met Paul Tonguette, her future husband who was 20 years her senior. They eventually married and moved to Oklahoma where her husband’s sister lived. Over the next few years Adelina and Paul would bring other family members to live with them from Venezuela. These included Tonya and Juanita, Adelina’s sisters; and Zaida, her 3-year-old niece whose mother had recently died. Zaida attended Catholic schools, but Adelina taught Zaida at home in the summers, teaching her many subjects in Spanish. The household was totally bilingual since Paul never learned to speak Spanish, and Juanita knew little English. Paul died in 1969, following several years in a nursing home due to a stroke. Tonya married Gunther Guirten and they had a son, Gregory Guirten, which delighted Adelina as she finally had a family baby to play with, and he is her only nephew here in the states. Zaida had a son, Sean Smith, in 1992 and this was one of the greatest joys of Adelina’s life, finally having a grandchild in her family.
After Adelina was widowed she moved to Houston as a private duty nurse. She returned to Oklahoma, continued private duty and eventually retired in her late 60’s. However, retirement did not agree with her, and she returned to nursing, serving as a hospice nurse into her 70’s. She also traveled extensively with groups from Christ the King and other tours. She had fond memories of Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Hawaii, and ultimately, Portugal where she was very moved by the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. But her favorite experience was traveling to Rome with Father Gerald Mayfield in the early 1980’s and meeting the Pope. In 1984 she went to a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On the flight home she met a man named Earl Benne, who also loved to travel. They discovered they had much in common, and they married on Aril 19, 1985. Earl has a large family that welcomed her into their fold. Through them she became grandmother, aunt, and other relations to the Benne clan.
Adelina’s philosophy on life was that we are here to help others, particularly those in need. She lived life to the fullest with a wonderful sense of style, a love of beautiful clothes and shoes, and a great love of children. She became involved in many youth activities including the Care and Share Club of Christ the King. She always attributed her longevity to not eating red meat, only fish and chicken, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables. She characterized her commitment to God by following the Ten Commandments, praying often, and loving her neighbors. Everyone remembers her friendly manner and her blessing, “God Bless You,” that she bestowed on everyone she met. Even the priests were blessed, before they had a chance to bless her! She will be greatly missed by her family and friends, but we know she is very happy to finally be with her Lord in Heaven. The family gives special thanks to Onita McDaniel, Grace Living Center and Good Shepherd Hospice for the wonderful care they gave Adelina in her later years. Rosary will be at Matthews Funeral Home in Edmond at 7pm Friday, July 29th, and Mass will be on Saturday, July 30th at St. John’s Catholic Church in Edmond. If people prefer, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Catholic Charities.