CHARLESTON, IL – Kenneth Corwin Bence, age 91of Charleston, passed away peacefully in the comfort of his home surrounded by loving family on Sunday, March 29, 2020. A private family graveside service with military rites will be held at Roselawn Cemetery in Charleston. A public celebration of his life will take place at a later date. Memorials in his honor may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Coles County Animal Shelter, or to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Gifts may be mailed to Adams Funeral Chapel, 2330 Shawnee Drive, Charleston, IL 61920.
K.C. was born July 1, 1928 in Mattoon, Illinois, a son of Corwin Henry and Edith (Long) Bence. He attended Mattoon Schools and then served his country with the United States Army. Ken was a successful business man, beginning with his employment at ZERO Manufacturing in Burbank, California from 1957 – 1964 where he developed the explosion bolts used in the early space rocket program. From 1964 until its closing in 1992, Ken was President of Midstate Foundry located in Charleston.
Ken always kept busy! He was actively involved in fraternal organizations and was a life member of the Charleston Moose Lodge #1388 and Charleston Elks, B.P.O.E. #623 and was a member of the American Legion. When he wasn’t working he enjoyed hobbies such as golfing, boating and fishing, racing micro-midget cars, attending auctions and rummage sales, following his favorite NASCAR driver or vacationing in his RV. He truly enjoyed the many winters spent in Florida with his fellow snowbirds. Ken was a wonderful conversationalist and people were naturally drawn to his pleasant and outgoing personality. He was blessed with a wealth of friends including his longtime best friend, Dwight McElwee.
Ken shared fifteen years of his life with Carolyn (Green) Gordon, who he married on March 23, 2002. During this time they shared much laughter and good times with many close friends. She preceded him in death on March 4, 2017. He is survived by six of his seven children, Vickie Mercer of Midway, California, Glenda Beckett of Salem, Oregon, Pam Hernandez of San Juan Capistrano, California, Dawn Bence of Springfield, Oregon, David Bence of Charleston and Kevin (Jill) Bence of Hoopeston, Illinois; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Ken also leaves behind his best ever canine companion, Gertie. He was preceded in death by a son, Stephen Bence and two sisters, Vivian Hall and Wanda Bence.
K.C.’s family is truly appreciative of the many caregivers who have been a tremendous help. A huge thank you to Jamie and the rest of the VA nursing staff; Lincolnland Hospice staff, especially Shelby, Darcey and Shawn; and a special thank you to family friend and caregiver, Debbie Hays.
The Graveside Service honoring and celebrating the life of Kenneth Bence was held at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 2020 at Roselawn Cemetery with Pastor Tom Farris officiating. Military Services were conducted by the Charleston VFW Paul McVey Post 1592 and Charleston American Legion Post #93 combined Honor Guard. Participating were Dale Downs, Chaplain; Mike Zimmerle, Detail Commander; Alex Dancheta and Bill Reed, Color Guard; Dave Finely, Color Bearer; Gale Poteete and Gary Grounds, Buglers; Darrell Nees, Paul Buerster, Bob Stewart, Mark Beabout, Chet Campbell, Rod Franklin and Eugene Winnett, Riflemen. A poem was read by Kevin Bence, son of the deceased. Musical selections included "My Old Man" and "My Way" a recorded selection by Bill McElwee.
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