Carl A. Bender, 82, of Belleville, IL, born March 27, 1929, died June 30, 2011, at his home.
Carl attended Belleville schools, graduating from BTHS in 1947. From his early years, he was a man of action and deep commitment. He was an Eagle Scout and Scout leader. He helped organize Belleville Teen Town in 1942. After graduating from Belleville Township Junior College in 1950, he became one of the youngest members of the Belleville Police Department. He turned down a draft deferment and enlisted in the Air Force. He earned his wings as a navigator, bombardier, and radar observer, prior to being assigned to the Korean War Zone.
After the Korean War, Carl became a flight instructor, a base Provost Marshal, and worked at the Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, CA. His very busy career continued to include both flight time (a career accumulation of 5,000 hours) and security operations. His prior tours of duty to the Orient and planning experience were instrumental in the defeat of two regiments of North Vietnamese Regular Army during the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. In 1971, Lt. Colonel Bender retired out of Travis AFB, CA, having received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal w/Oak leaf, the Purple Heart, and numerous campaign ribbons with battle stars and foreign decorations. He was most proud of the fact that the units which he commanded or was assigned to received the USAF Outstanding Unit Award, Presidential Unit Citation, or both.
Following his USAF career, Carl was safety and security manager for Monsanto Corporate Headquarters in St. Louis, MO. During this time, the corporate headquarters was awarded the President’s Safety Award for five consecutive years. Several of his plans and programs for emergency actions are still being used to this day. While employed at Monsanto, Carl attended night school for thirteen years, earning an A.A. in police science at Belleville Area College, a B.S. in business and an M.S. in city and regional planning from SIUE. Carl started another full-time career in 1991, when he became a security coordinator and later a security specialist on the corporate security staff for Commerce Bank in St. Louis.
Carl Bender’s employment in the St. Louis area has resulted in wide recognition for St. Louis as well as for Carl himself. His membership and very active participation in many organizations included: American Society for Industrial Security, Professional Investigators Council of Greater St. Louis, International Association of Chiefs of Police, USAF Security Police Association, Korean War Veterans Association, Professional Investigators Council, Midwest Financial Fraud Investigators, American Legion, and Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. Carl was an avid supporter and fundraiser for the St. Louis Major Case Squad. In 2001, he was selected as Volunteer Leader of the Year for ASIS. This resulted in a Carl Bender Scholarship Fund for Boy/Girl Scouts - one each from Illinois and Missouri.
He was preceded in death by his parents, August C. Bender and Mattie E., nee DeTienne, Bender; his sister, Bernice Bretschneider; a son-in-law, Leonard Bafia; a sister-in-law, Jutta Bender; and brothers-in-law, Bill Heidelberg, Harold Bretschneider, and Robert Jennings.
Surviving are his wife of 57 years, Eloise, nee Jennings, Bender, whom he married January 10, 1954, at the First Presbyterian Church in Collinsville, IL; four children, Nancy Lee Bender of St. Louis, MO, Janet Lee Bafia of O’Fallon, IL, Colonel Gary Carl (Cindy) Bender of Herndon, VA, and Donald Allen Bender of Chicago, IL; and one grandchild, Rachel Mae Bender of Herndon, VA. He will also be missed by his brother, Raymond W. Bender; his sisters-in-law, Nancy A. Heidelberg and Phyllis Jennings; his many nieces and nephews; and his close friends and associates.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to either the Carl Bender Scholarship Fund, c/o Chapter Treasurer, 926 Hemsath Rd., Suite 103, St. Charles, MO 63303, or to the Korean War Veteran’s Association, Imjin Chapter, P.O. Box 211, O’Fallon, IL 62269. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.rennerfh.com.
Visitation: Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 6, 2011, and from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday, July 7, 2011, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, IL. A Korean War Veterans ritual will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.
Funeral: Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 7, 2011, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, IL, with the Rev. Herbert Schafale officiating. Burial with full military honors will be held at Lake View Memorial Gardens, Fairview Heights, IL