Just missing her 100th birthday by two weeks, Audrey P. Bennett left us on the morning of February 13, 2014. Her last days were spent at Aspen Place Health Campus in Greensburg, Indiana where her daughter, Judith Rust, resides. A longtime resident of Indianapolis, she was born in Trappe, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Wesley Abram Poley and Bertha Anna (Williams) Poley both of whom predeceased her. Audrey’s long life consisted of cultivating family, friends, flowers, and memories. Her devoted husband, Dr. Ivan F. Bennett, preceded her in death by 22 years.
Always passionate about her life interests, she never short-changed her opportunities to share her heart, talents, and resources. There has never been a more empathetic listener and devoted companion. She was conversant until only the last few days of her life and thrilled, as always, at hearing the exploits of those around her.
After Audrey graduated from Ursinus College in 1939, she worked at Lighthouse Mission Settlement. There, as a social worker, serving underprivileged youngsters in downtown Philadelphia, she met the love of her life, Ivan, as he was finishing his medical degree at Jefferson Medical College. They married the day after he graduated and he entered the Occupation Army as a Lieutenant. Audrey accompanied her husband to Munich, Germany where they lived for several years. During this time Audrey taught the military children while Ivan, as a psychiatrist, interviewed and assessed many former Nazi officers for the Nuremberg Trials. He said that nearly every one of them, when confronted with the atrocities committed in the Second World War, would plead “temporary insanity.”
Returning to the states, they settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Ivan was on staff at the State Hospital, then onto the Veterans’ Hospital in Washington D.C. In 1958 Dr. Bennett was offered a position in neuropsycho-pharmacology with the Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company, relocating him and Audrey to Indianapolis where they lived the rest of their lives in an old apple orchard on Eagle Creek. This setting was their home and their sanctuary the rest of their lives, and where they raised their two children.
Audrey was a 55-year member of Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church and its women’s association, annually hosting their Christmas gathering until very recently. She was also a sustaining member of Neophyte Garden Club, a voracious reader, charming entertainer, delightful conversationalist, avid birder, and phenomenal gardener. From her library window she regularly watched a barred owl in her birdbath and a nesting pair of bald eagles fishing from an old snag. Through her breakfast table window, she witnessed turtles laying their eggs, foxes, coyotes, mink, and many, many deer. Her only regret was that she didn’t have wild turkeys, a favorite of her incredible primary care physician, Dr. Gene Vlahovich.
In addition to her parents and husband, Audrey is predeceased by a brother, Wesley Raymond Poley, and sister, Alma Poley Kendig. Surviving Audrey are her sister, Arlene Poley Kantner, her son, Ivan Stanley Bennett and wife Susan of Hilton Head, South Carolina, and daughter Judith Anne Rust and husband Greg of Greensburg, Indiana. Also surviving are those who knew her as their favorite Nana Banana, her grandsons: Justin (Melissa) Rust, Jonathan (Casey) Bennett, Jason (Erin) Bennett, Joseph (Nathalie) Bennett, and Christian Andrew Bennett Rust; and granddaughters: Audrey Rust Krizman, Audra (Lee) Ransburg Cubie, Monique (Ryan) Rust Metzing, and Joy (Charley) Rust Nye. She was also blessed with 11 great-grandchildren.
A memorial celebration will be held at Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church, 3535 Kessler Boulevard, North Drive, Indianapolis, (317-829-0199) on Saturday, March 8, at 10:30 in the morning.
In lieu of flowers, we invite donations made to:
Our Hospice of South Central Indiana, http://www.ourhospice.org/#nogo for their tender care
Compassion International, http://www.compassion.com/ for their love of children in need