The Woodward News

July 11, 2013

Douglas Monroe Benbrook

Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Douglas Monroe Benbrook  was born July 18, 1921, to Asa Monroe Benbrook and Mayme Lee Garner Benbrook in Fargo, Oklahoma. He died on July 6, 2013, at age 91 in Woodward, Oklahoma, following his wife Pauline in death by 38 days.


Douglas went to school in Fargo, Oklahoma, graduating from high school in 1939. He enrolled at Oklahoma A&M College, now Oklahoma State University, where he majored in business and graduated with High Distinction in Banking and Finance.  While at Oklahoma A&M, Douglas served as president of his fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, and as editor of the 1943 Redskin yearbook. As the United States prepared to enter World War II, Douglas enlisted in the United States Army Reserve Officer Training Corps and was named in his senior year as Cadet Colonel of the U.S. Army ROTC on campus.


Upon graduation in 1943, Douglas was immediately transferred to the 4th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army, fighting in both the Normandy Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge. In combat throughout France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany, he received the Bronze Star and Silver Star for gallantry and valor in action. He was discharged in 1946 as a 1st Lieutenant but continued to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve, eventually accumulating 21 years of service and retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.


When Douglas returned to Oklahoma in 1946, he joined his father and his brother Temple as an officer of the Stock Exchange Bank that had recently relocated to Woodward. After 25 years of service, he resigned to establish Benbrook Loans, Insurance and Real Estate.


Douglas married Pauline Henryetta McClung of May, Oklahoma, on June 5, 1946. They established a home in Woodward that they shared for 67 years of loving marriage. Their daughter Margaret was only nine days old when the 1947 Woodward tornado struck the town, demolishing the roof of their house but sparing Pauline, Margaret and Pauline’s mother, Phoebe Ferris McClung, who took shelter in the basement of the family home. Pauline preceded her husband in death on May 29 of this year.


The couple raised four children: Margaret Benbrook, McClung “Mac” Benbrook and Paula Hughes, all of Woodward, and Marilynn Thoma of Chicago, Illinois. All followed their parents’ lead in graduating from Oklahoma State University.


An active citizen in the community, Douglas was a member of Kiwanis Club and Woodward Chamber of Commerce, which he led as president, and Woodward Masonic Lodge #189, of which he was later honored as a Fifty Year Past Master.  Joining the First United Methodist Church in 1939, he was a Sunday School teacher for many years and served on the building committee at the time of the construction of the new church building on Downs Avenue.


Douglas also supported his children’s involvement in 4-H Club and Boy Scouts of America, for which he served as district chairman, earning the Silver Beaver Award for his contributions. His professed philosophy of life was simple: “Keep smiling, do your best and appreciate your fellow man.”


In his banking and lending activities, Douglas tended to believe the best about people. His family recalls many $50 loans made to individuals who others would say were not creditworthy, telling the borrower, “You pay it back, now, when you can.”


His business interests were broad. Believing that dollars should be working, Douglas purchased farm land, pursued mineral rights, invested in the stock market, started a used-car business and renovated and rented homes.


A child of the Depression, Douglas was always frugal. His last new car was a 1983 Pontiac. He set a fine example of leaving no food to waste on his plate, owing partly to his wife’s talent as a cook. In fact, the only food product that Douglas avoided was Spam, a distaste he developed as a soldier in WWII.


Surviving Douglas are his son Mac and his wife, the Rev. Mary Davis, of Woodward; his daughters Margaret Benbrook and Paula Hughes, both of Woodward, and Marilynn Thoma, of Chicago, and his two sons-in-law, David Hughes and Carl Thoma. His grandchildren are Amy Lucas Solloway and her husband Joel, Grant Hughes, Margo Thoma, Mark Thoma and his wife Yolanda, Lindsey Benbrook Meadors and her husband Michael, Dr. Kelsey Benbrook Sisti and her husband Greg, and Stephen Benbrook. Douglas was blessed with three great-grandchildren, Lucas Sisti, Annabella Solloway and Teresa Thoma.


Preceding Douglas in death were his brother Temple Benbrook, Woodward, and his sister, Genevieve Benbrook Holton, Poteau, Oklahoma.


The family of Douglas and Pauline Benbrook welcomes friends to celebrate both their lives in a service on Saturday, July 13, at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church at 1111 Downs Avenue. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that friends consider donations to Woodward’s Plains and Pioneers Museum, the First United Methodist Church or those charities in the community that are important to them. Billings Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.