Keith Edward Benton was born on the family farm near Oto Dec. 15, 1928, the son of Edward H. and Bernice (Kimsey) Benton. He was the third of seven children, and graduated from Oto High School in 1947, the valedictorian of his class. In 1951, he graduated from Wayne State Teacher's College in Wayne, Neb., and started his first job at International Harvestor in Sioux City, as a bookkeeper.
On May 5, 1951, Keith was united in marriage to Dorothy Irene Mack in Wayne, Neb.
Keith was inducted into the United States Marine Corps Aug. 22, 1951, and served his country during the Korean War. Cpl. Benton was honorably discharged from his military duties Aug. 21, 1953.
Following his discharge from the service, Keith taught school and coached for five years in Soldier, nine years in Anthon, and 24 years in Marcus. At various times in his career, he taught business, government, social studies and history.
Keith was "Coach" to many athletes, including teams of high school boys and girls basketball, fall and spring baseball, junior high football, wrestling, and boys and girls track. For 13 years, he was the director of the Marcus Little League baseball program. Coach Benton and his teams claimed numerous area, regional, sub-state and state titles throughout the years.
During the summer months, Keith aided Bill Kimball as an area scout for the White Sox baseball team.
Students may recall Mr. Benton's decorated classrooms, filled interestingly with calendars, trinkets, crates and collections. He was known to entice his learners by making an occasional bet for malts or a bag of popcorn.
Keith was a member of the Grace United Methodist Church, the American Legion Post 517, a former President of the Sioux Valley Pee Wee and Midget baseball leagues, and a district Midget baseball director. He also enjoyed his earlier memberships on the men's golf and bowling leagues in Marcus.
Both Keith and Dorothy retired from teaching in 1991. They spent 10 incredible years on the Diamond Six-D Ranch in Kremmling, Colo. Keith found great enjoyment in gardening, tending to their yard, irrigating hay meadows, hosting many visiting friends and relatives, and attending many Colorado Rockies baseball games.
Keith also loved singing in the church choir, collecting hats and calendars, cutting and stacking firewood, feeding birds, camping, playing cards, garage sales, and entertaining guests in Keith's Koffee House. His greatest joy in life was spending time with his family and close friends.
Keith is survived by his wife of 59 years, Dorothy Benton of Marcus; his daughter, Sherryl (Harry) of Cedar Rapids; his sons, Mike Benton of Parshall, Colo., Randy (Mary) Benton of Le Mars, and Brad (Amy) of Manning; his grandchildren, Allison Osborn, Kelsey Benton, Sarah and Luke Benton, and Miranda, McKenna and Mason Benton; his four sisters, Donna Stratton of Oto, Maureen (Clem) Becker of Indianola, Clara Bolte of Oto, and Vera (Pete) Collins of Anthon; his sisters-in-law, Neva (Ed) Karssen of Alton, Beverly Benton of Oto, Kathy Mack of Smithland, and Doris Mack of Sioux City; and numerous other relatives and friends.
Preceding Keith in death are his parents; his brothers, Wayne and Oren Benton; and his brothers-in-law, Kenneth Stratton, Harlan Bolte, John Mack and Tom Mack.
Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Grace United Methodist Church in Marcus, with the Rev. Gary McDonough officiating. Interment will be at 2:30 p.m. at the Oto Cemetery in Oto. Military respects will be provided at the cemetery by the F.I. Goodburn American Legion Post 517 of Marcus.
Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. today (Tuesday) at Grace United Methodist Church in Marcus, with the family present from 5-8 p.m. and a prayer service at 7 p.m. Visitation will continue at the church, one hour prior to Keith's service. The Earnest -- Johnson Funeral Home in Marcus is in charge of arrangements.
Thoughts, stories and condolences may be directed to the family at www.mauerjohnsonfh.com.