GROWING CONCERNS – Sitkans Andrea Fraga and Kaleb Aldred of Middle Island Gardens introduce themselves to an audience of around 100 this afternoon during the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit in Sweetland Hall on the SJ campus. The three-day conference, organized by Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition, Sustainable Southeast Partnership, runs through Sunday at several Sitka venues. Some of Saturday's topics include farming in Fairbanks, pest control and cultivating gourmet mushrooms. Vendor tables will be set up on Saturday and Sunday at Harrigan Centennial Hall. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Carmen Benson

Former Sitka resident Carmen Maria Benson, 82, died of natural causes June 29. She was residing in an assisted living home in Tampa, Fla.
    Services were July 3 at MacDonald Funeral Home in Tampa, with interment following at Rest Haven Memorial Park.
    Carmen was born Dec. 6, 1930, in Cantaura, Venezuela.  She met and married Ralph Benson there while he was working in the oil fields. They moved to the U.S. in 1959 so their children could be raised “American.” They relocated to Sitka in 1970 when he  began working at Alaska Lumber & Pulp Co.
    In Sitka, Carmen was very active in her home church, Sitka Assembly of God, and served as a missionary at large to Venezuela. She, along with her many Christian brothers and sisters, actively raised support for Venezuelan ministries through rummage sales and other fundraisers.
    She traveled  back and forth to her home country, where she also worked in jail  ministry, and helped found a thriving church in a poverty-stricken area of her hometown, El Tigre.
    Carmen was a sociable and outgoing person, who was always ready to share her faith with anyone.
    Her husband and a son, Hector Benson, preceded her in death.
    She is survived by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They are Hector’s daughter Angela Benson Slaton and her husband Jason and their children Gabriel, Garrett and Gigi Slaton of Battle Ground, Wash.; daughter Vilma Perales and her husband Fredy Nunez and their daughter Carolina Rojas-Rizales and husband Moises of Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela; daughter Julie Hames and her husband Randal, their daughters Randi Hames, and Rosanne McGough, her husband Brad and sons Braydon and Briston of Anchorage and Palmer;  son Jose Benson, his wife Betzaida and their children Brent and Brenda Benson of Tampa, Fla.; son Ivan Benson and his wife Nilda and their daughter Ivana Benson of Valrico, Fla.; son Roy Benson of Bellingham, Wash.; and adopted daughter Iris Uchytil, her husband Rod, and their children, daughters Carine and Shandra and son Tony, of Houston Texas.
    Memorial gifts on behalf of Carmen can be made to the Sitka Assembly of God - Mission Fund, 214 Kimsham St., Sitka.

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