“The Lord your God is in your midst, The Mighty One will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17. Mildred Courtney Benton was called home to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on September 10, 2019. She was b…read more
“The Lord your God is in your midst, The Mighty One will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17. Mildred Courtney Benton was called home to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on September 10, 2019. She was born on April 21, 1925 in Plaquemine, Louisiana and grew up there, as well as in Melville and Mansura; all were beloved towns of her childhood. She was the cherished wife of Fred Benton, Jr., who preceded her in death in 2012. Grateful for the gift of music God bestowed, her life was intertwined with a great love of classical music. As a concert pianist, she performed seven seasons with the Baton Rouge Symphony. Joy and beauty, discipline and laughter were her constant companions. Her family and friends enjoyed immensely her Joie De Vie and elegance, especially her children – Frederick Garig Benton, III; Elizabeth Grace Benton; Steve Harrison Benton and wife, Sheran; Emily Benton Harper; William Hart Benton and wife, Beth; and Amy Christine Benton. She is survived by: two sisters – Carmen McNabb and Ruth Gonzales; 17 grandchildren – Benjamin Benton (Sharon), Frances Benton (Matt), Heidi Knapp (Fred), Denver Benton (Alicia), Austin Benton (Alicia), Katelyn Redwood (Nabeel), Reagan Buchler (Shane), Warren Samuel, Courtney Turkington (Adam), William Harper, Emily Ryan (Scott), Caroline Richardson (Daniel), Nathan Benton, Mitchell Benton, Matthew Query (Sonya), Harrison Query and Elizabeth Query; and 16 great grandchildren – Gabriel and Alexander Benton, Leona Ripple, Kiara and Tanner Knapp, Denali, Marlee and Ayla Benton, Luke Turkington, Nathan, Jack, Henry and Charlotte Ryan, and Caitlin, Grant and Lily Richardson. She was preceded in death by: her mother Grace Julia Courtney; her father Henry Davis Courtney; a sister Claire Landry; and three brothers – Donald, Hubert and Kirkland Courtney. She received her B.S. degree in music, majoring in piano and minoring in French horn, from Northwestern State University, Natchitoches; her bachelor’s in music and master’s in music from LSU. She did additional work at Converse School of Music in Spartanburg, S.C. and the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, IL and played concerts throughout Louisiana, in Mexico, South America and Portugal. She appeared with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra seven seasons as piano soloist and one with the Shreveport Symphony where she also held the first French horn chair for 5 years and one with the Transylvania Symphony. She taught at St. Vincent’s College in Shreveport. Among her teachers – Lorraine Brittain, Edwin Gershefski, Edmund Spenser, Carlton Liddle, and Fred Sahlmann. She played under the baton of Orlando Barrera, Richard Korn, Emile Cooper, Peter Paul and Zoltan Rozsnyai. Mildred Courtney Benton identified her goals early and contended that neither her talent nor potential is unique, but that she possessed the determination to succeed, which she called relentless drive. She read music before she read words, never realizing that it was unusual. Neither was she aware that her perfect pitch was a gift. Both her mother and grandmother were talented pianists and music was part of her earliest environment. She brought glamour, excitement, vitality to her technical brilliance, possessing numerous qualities that are hallmarks of artistic mastery. She made her first appearance as a soloist with the Baton Rouge Symphony in 1949, just a few days before the birth of her second child. At that time expectant mothers did not appear in public roles ostensibly because their health was presumed fragile. She played and recalled the most challenging and exciting moment was performing the Rachmaninoff C Minor Concerto with Maestro Cooper. He was in his seventies and shared with her the fact that he had conducted the premiere performance of this work with Rachmaninoff, himself, at the piano. After her performance, Maestro Cooper walked to the piano, held her hands, and said, Bravo! Bravo! For her it was the greatest musical moment of her life. As a young girl of 16, she composed the high school graduation march, as well as enjoyed medals won for debate and basketball. She fondly held dear the piano teachers of her youth: Her mother and grandmother, nuns from Opelousas, Our Lady of Providence School, Mr. Stinson, Professor Blanchard of LA College, Pineville, and Mrs. Lawler of Mansura whom she regarded in high esteem. She served on the Baton Rouge Symphony Board of Directors; 12 years as organist for St. Aloysius; president and member of La Lecture Book Club; Junior League, and many more. Throughout, she was the greatest supporter of her late husband, Fred Benton, Jr’s diverse and civic minded pursuits. She was a member of First Presbyterian Church, Baton Rouge, and enjoyed many life-long friendships there, Circle 6 Bible study and in past years, a member of the choir. Her life-long friend, Elaine Jones, was her treasure, as well as her sisters, Carmen McNabb, Ruth Gonzales and sister-in-law, Rosemary Courtney. Judy Hicks Drell, Jody Benton, Mr. & Mrs. David Norwood, Russ Doyle and Tommy Benton, Jr., were of great comfort and very dear; none more so than her children and family. At 94 years old, she was youthful and full of life. Her week was not complete without the love, laughter, and decades-long friends at Feeney LeDoux, especially Rachael Feeney. Courtney Benton enjoyed rooting for LSU tiger baseball, basketball and football. The family wishes to thank the Rev. Dr. Gerrit Dawson and his wife, Rhonda, Jim Solomon and others for their pastoral care. The family holds in great appreciation the care Ken, Jared and Courtney, pharmacists, provided, as well as thanking the nurses at OLOL and her doctors at Baton Rouge Clinic. The family holds in deepest gratitude caregiver, Lucy Valter Felps and Dr. Andrew Smith. Services will be held on Saturday, October 5, at First Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge. A visitation will be held from 9:30 a.m. until the funeral service beginning at 11:00 a.m. in the Dunham Chapel, with a reception to follow. There will be a private burial at Port Hudson. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the First Presbyterian Church Gardere School.
Date: Saturday, October 5, 2019
Time: 9:30 am - 11:00 am
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