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

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

Viewing is 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday with the family present 4-6 p.m. at Lockenour-Jones Mortuary in Cambridge.


Ella Rea (Smith) tenBensel was born Nov. 16, 1931, to Winfield and Sarah Elizabeth Smith in Goodland, Kansas. After her mother died when she was 2 ½ years old, she was raised by her aunt and uncle, Cora and Art Smith of Wilsonville.

Ella Rea graduated from Wilsonville High School in 1949.

On Oct. 23, 1949, she married 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 always was 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.

Survivors include 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.

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

Memorials may be left in Ella Rea’s name at Lockenour-Jones Mortuary in Cambridge.

To send flowers to the family of Ella tenBensel, please visit Tribute Store.