Patricia Ann (McRae) Benjamin, 69, of Billings, died Sunday, Feb. 24, 2002, at Horizon Hospice Home. She was born July 17, 1932, in Freeport, Ill., to Francis J. Rumann and Alice L. (Miller) Rumann.

Mrs. Benjamin's education began in the Freeport Public School System. The family moved to Mt. Morris, Ill., in 1946, and Pat graduated from Mt. Morris High School in 1950 as co-salutatorian. She was active in music programs in both junior and senior high school, playing cello in the orchestra and clarinet in the band. She sang in the girl's chorus, Treble Clef and mixed choir.

Her college education started at Milwaukee-Downer Women's College where her major was occupational therapy. She transferred to Northern Illinois State Teachers' College in Dekalb, for her sophomore year and changed her major to elementary education. While on vacation in Wyoming during Christmas of 1951, she enjoyed the area so much that upon her return to Dekalb, she researched western colleges where she might transfer her credits. Colorado State College of Education in Greeley, now University of Northern Colorado, was the final choice.

Before completing her senior year, she was offered a teaching position with the Colstrip School District. In September 1953, her teaching career began. She completed the studies for her diploma through correspondence courses from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Because of her high grades on the courses, she was awarded a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica by Northwestern. She received her bachelor's degree from CSCE.

Her first year in Montana, she learned about living in a teacherage, participated in an antelope hunt and met Evan "Duke" McRae, who she married Dec. 22, 1954. To this union, four children were born, Doug (Kim), Sheila, Scott (Audrey) and Bruce, who preceded her in death. Eight grandchildren, 14 step-grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Pat received her master's degree from Eastern Montana College. In addition to teaching at Colstrip, she taught at St. Labre in Ashland; Alternative School in Loveland, Colo.; School District #6, Greeley, Colo.; Rapid City, S.D. School District; and Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D.

Among her talents and hobbies were entering items in the county fairs, sewing, writing and gardening. A paper she had written when a senior in high school was published in the Congressional Record after having been read to congress by Sen. Everett Dirkson of Illinois. She had other published works, also.

Following her divorce in 1980, she moved to Colorado, where her brother and sister resided. St. John's United Church of Christ in Greeley was the location of her marriage on Dec. 19, 1981, to Karl Benjamin of Billings. After their marriage, they moved to Rapid City where they owned and operated a Komac paint store. Upon selling the paint business, they taught in the Rapid City School District until retirement. They then moved to Billings in 1998.

She is survived by her husband, Karl Benjamin of Billings; daughter, Shelia McRae of Billings; two sons, Douglas (Kim) McRae of Forsyth and Scott (Audrey) McRae of Billings; four stepsons, Daniel (Beverly) Benjamin of Fallon, Nev., Timothy (Patrice) Benjamin of Billings, Jeffrey Benjamin of Chicago and James (Kilee) Benjamin of Tucson, Ariz.; sister, Kay Schneider, of Greeley; brother, James Rumann of Evans, Colo.; eight grandchildren; 14 step-grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She was preceded in death by her parents; and a son, Bruce Gordon McRae, Aug. 28, 1977.

Memorial service 2 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the United Community Church in Colstrip. Memorials may be made to Big Sky Hospice, PO Box 35033, Billings, MT 59107.

Arrangements were by Cremation or Funeral Gallery.

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