Theresa Mefferd Beneke

Honored by:Janet S. Beneke and Patricia J. Beneke
Brick location:C:17  map

Theresa Mefferd Beneke was bom near Pomeroy, Iowa in rural Pocahontas County on June 28, 1888. She was a first generation American, her parents having emigrated from Sweden and settling in Iowa. She was a school teacher in the county schools of southwest Pocahontas County and gave instruction in English to the Swedish children who lived there. On February 14, 1914 she married Anton Beneke.

Theresa Beneke's contributions to her family and community made her an Iowa heroine in the true sense of the word. She had seven children and also raised a niece and nephew after her sister died of tuberculosis. Her family was raised on a Northwest Iowa farm. Her days were filled with the toils of an Iowa farm wife of her era -- washing, gardening, canning, and cooking three meals a day for eleven people plus various farm hands. Electricity and indoor plumbing did not arrive on her farm until the mid-1930's. The ferocity of the Iowa winters was countered with only a heating stove.

Despite these daily challenges, she found time to instill in her children a love of leaming. Theresa Beneke was herself an avid reader. Family trips to the public library were a regular occasion. Theresa Beneke presided over homework sessions conducted in the light of a kerosene lamp. Each of the children played a musical instrument. Ultimately, all nine of the children she raised went to college, with five of them graduating from Iowa State. One of them, Raymond R. Beneke, went on to become a member of the faculty of the Department of Economics at ISU.

Grandma Beneke's emphasis on education became a legacy for the generations to come. Each of her twenty grandchildren received college degrees, going on to become lawyers, doctors, nurses, bankers, farmers, business persons, and teachers. As two of these grandchildren it seems fitting to us to nominate Grandma Beneke to a place in the Plaza of Heroines. We honor her for her contribution to her family and her community.

Janet S. Beneke and Patricia J. Beneke 2/08