Edna Janot Bente, 99, passed away from natural causes on November 22, 2020 in Torrington, CT.
Born in Milwaukee, WI on January 27, 1921, Edna was the daughter of the late Edward and Clara Janot. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1942 and married Paul F. Bente, Jr. right after graduation. They moved to Lewiston, NY where they started their family, designed and built their house, and helped found an elementary school at their church. In 1955 they moved to Wilmington, DE where they designed and built another house that Edna furnished to be both elegant and comfortable with a large kitchen suitable for her family of five children and satisfying her passion to entertain large groups of friends. She was well known for her creative and innovative cooking. Every Christmas the kitchen also became a small bakery as Edna prepared stollens for her extended family and dozens of friends. Through her warmth and love of people she was a positive influence in the lives of many that she touched. She developed her administrative skills by managing the demands of family, community involvement, political campaigns, and church. In 1974 Edna and Paul moved to Washington, DC where she brought her skills to the Edmund Burke School and became the assistant in charge of practically everything. A colleague called her the “heartbeat of Burke” and the annual Edna Bente award was created in recognition of her contributions. She and Paul retired to spend several years in a camper van touring the country, visiting friends and family, going to jazz festivals, dancing, and providing wonderful experiences for her grandchildren. In 1993 they designed and built their third house in Landenberg, PA with a woodland garden of native plants and she welcomed every spring with many friends in a May Apple celebration. She continued her work at St. Paul’s Lutheran in Newark, DE where she served on the flower guild and helped to create the memorial garden. She especially enjoyed preparing and sharing meals with University of Delaware students involved in Campus Ministry.
Edna will be remembered for her creative and exceptional cooking, artistic sense, endless energy, generosity, and love of family and friends. She applied her aesthetic sense of line, color, and composition to everything from imaginative design of three houses and gardens to elegant home décor, flower and table arrangements, and photographic collages. Her ideal pleasant evening was to hold a dinner party for 20 friends and do all the cooking. She rose early every morning and her boundless energy and the work ethic she learned at her father's side in the family bakery carried her through the evening. At 85 she was still doing more than most of us. Her heart was always open to friends, new and old, and she showered them and her family with boundless love.
Edna was preceded in death by her husband of 70 years Paul and sister Edith Schneider. She is survived by her sister June Stillwell of Valley Center, CA; children Paul F. Bente III (Bryan) of Landenberg PA, John E. Bente (Lynn) of Panama City, FL, Peter J. Bente (Lucille “Jean”) of Anthem, AZ, Dr. Janot J. Bente of Collinsville, CT, and Lisa E. Bente of Rockville MD; grandchildren Rick Bente, Katharine Knarreborg, Brett Lieblich, Margot Lieblich, and William Bente; and great grandsons Will Bente and Leo Knarreborg.
Because of the pandemic, a memorial service will be planned for a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to Delaware Nature Society, Hockessin, DE or St. Paul's Lutheran Campus Ministry, Newark, DE.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Edna Janot Bente, please visit our floral store.