Miriam Agnes Benson Whitman, a sweet angel on earth, went to be with her Eternal Father on June 22, 2017. She was sent home over a year ago to succumb quickly to non-smokers’ lung cancer; instead, she struggled on in sheer faith to make sure her family was ready and safe by offering her sufferings to the end for them. She was our Perfect Mary, with complete humility, deeply spiritual, fiercely independent and faith-filled to the end.
She was first, and foremost, a homemaker and mother of eight, but also a gifted organist for 66 years. At ten years old, the nuns at St. Catherine of Sienna Parish, needing an organist, taught Miriam to play and sing, thus, beginning a lifelong career of service to the Church and her Precious Lord. Her debut was a funeral where she was called out of her fifth-grade class and, many decades later, she explained to her children, “The only thing I was afraid of was making a mistake!” Her passion also allowed her to celebrate with family and friends in song and music and, in the sometimes chaos of eight children, five of them boys, she would rise above the din and break out loudly in song pounding her piano. She was Ms. Whitman, the organist, to scores of schoolchildren and parishioners for 12 years at St. Christopher and 43 years at St. Benilde.
Mim was also the dedicated and loving wife to her Bob. The early years were very tough for her, but, without ever a complaint, she took on the task of running the entire household, basically alone, because he worked much of the time, including long stints traveling. Later, they got to travel much of the country and even abroad together with first the Saints and then the Forty-Niners in the whirlwind and high-end NFL life.
She surprised her children just a few days ago with a most precious gift of her life in journals which date back to 1962, the year after her eighth child was born. Her spirit of faith lives on with us in her writings; her beautiful example of Christian Motherhood will be a model for generations and a legacy to this “good and faithful servant.”
She joins her husband, Robert Francis Whitman, Sr. and leaves behind her five sons: Robert, Jr.(Sharon), Michael, Gerry(Serena), Wayne (Diane), and Murph; her three daughters: Judy(Max), Joan (Keith), and Laura(Chris - deceased); her sixteen grandchildren: Shannon, Jessica, Melissa, Lauren, Patrick, Leigh, Chris, Ashley, Greg, Katie, Robbie, Michele, Jaclyn, Matthew, Austin and Jared and her twenty-two great grandchildren. She was the oldest daughter of Robert Watson Benson, Sr. and Valerie Vath Benson and the sister of Caron Benson Hogan of Mobile, Valerie Benson Hogan of Kenner and Robert Benson, Jr. and Joseph Benson, Sr., both deceased.
Visitation will begin Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at St. Benilde Church, 1901 Division Street, Metairie, LA from 10:00 am until 12 noon with a Catholic Mass following at 12 noon. Interment will follow at Garden of Memories Cemetery, 4900 Airline Drive, Metairie, LA.