Ella Rea tenBensel, 88, of Cambridge, Nebraska, died Thursday, July 23, 2020, at Tri Valley Health System in Cambridge.

Ella Rea (Smith) tenBensel was born November 16, 1931, to Winfield and Sarah Elizabeth Smith in Goodland, Kansas. After her mother died when she was 2 and a half years old, she was raised by her aunt and uncle, Cora and Art Smith of Wilsonville, Nebraska.

Ella Rea graduated from Wilsonville High School in 1949.

On October 23, 1949, she was united in marriage to Carl tenBensel. The couple celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary in 2017, prior to Carl’s passing.

Ella Rea hadn’t been gone an entire day and hundreds of people took the time to mention how much she meant, just one sign of how many people cared for her. The words loving, special, positive, happy, industrious, amazing and creative have all been used to describe Ella Rea.

One of her favorite activities was that of a 4-H leader with the Silver Spurs, of which she served for 45 years, impacting hundreds of kids’ lives along the way. She was also a charter member of the Wilsonville Saddle Club.

And from making hundreds of leather jackets and pageant gowns, and outfits for the Miss Nebraska, Miss Rodeo Nebraska, Miss Rodeo America, and Miss Rodeo USA pageants, to painting and sewing and singing, Ella Rea was always active. She illustrated a children’s book at the age of 88 with her daughter Ginger. And she even painted three pictures on the same day she went into the hospital, the last of which was of late husband Carl tenBensel.

Ella Rea was a member of The United Baptist-Christian Church in Wilsonville.

Ella Rea was preceded in death by her husband, Carl; brothers, Pete Smith, Aaron Sylvester (Bud) Smith; sisters, Hazel Hershey, Sue Stump and Ada Sims.

Ella Rea is survived by her three children: daughter, Ginger tenBensel, sons, Jan tenBensel and his wife Jodi, and Mark tenBensel and his wife Jackie; sisters, Katherine King and Beth McCormick; and three grandchildren, Bethany, Gavin and Reese.

Funeral services will be at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, at Trinity United Methodist Church in Cambridge with Pastor David Kim officiating and Pastor Keith Theobald giving the sermon, with the service livestreamed. Burial will be at 3 p.m. at Fairview Cemetery in Cambridge.

Viewing is scheduled for Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the family present from 4-6 p.m. at Lockenour – Jones Mortuary in Cambridge. Memorials may be left in Ella Rea’s name at Lockenour-Jones Mortuary in Cambridge. Lockenour – Jones Mortuary is entrusted with arrangements.

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