Beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Phyllis Bench Ensign passed away peacefully Sunday, May 24, 2020. Phyllis was born November 14, 1931 to Clyde Ericksen Bench and Frances Mary Jardine Bench. She counted herself blessed to be born during the depression, believing the time that followed was America at its finest. This spirit of optimism and gratitude would be hallmarks of her character.
Phyllis’s childhood was a very happy one. She was an excellent student who enjoyed school and sports. After graduating from East High School, she attended the University of Utah. She became involved in Alpha Chi Omega, Spurs, Cwean, and through her activity in those groups, she has enjoyed many lifelong friendships. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 1953. One of the joys of her life was educating hundreds of students over her 30-year teaching career. She had a great capacity to love, especially those students who struggled, and would often remark, “Those who are the least lovable need love the most.”
She married Donald Frank Ensign on July 16, 1953 in the Salt Lake Temple. They raised their family together in East Millcreek. Many of their cherished family experiences came from time spent at their cabin in Island Park, Idaho and Snowbird, Utah. Phyllis and Don always valued having experiences and took every opportunity to explore the world, having an insatiable appetite for travel. She visited all 50 states and over 35 countries.
Phyllis treasured her membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served wherever needed. In later years, Don and Phyllis served an inner city mission in the Cannon 1st Ward helping refugees. She was blessed with an incredible ability to form connections with people from all walks of life. She had great compassion for the destitute and those who needed a soft place to land. After sharing a heart-to-heart with a young Australian waitress, Phyllis brought her home and counted Suzanne Alder (Dan) as one of her own.
Phyllis was a lifelong learner. She was often reading, interested in a wide variety of topics and people. She was a wonderful listener and had many friends who loved her dearly. She especially loved her study group, book club, and lunch bunch friends.
Phyllis had a one-of-a-kind memory. Her attention to detail allowed her to serve and love those around her in personal ways. She took great care to write personal cards and pick out special gifts for every occasion. She never missed a birthday, a particularly impressive feat considering the family had over 100 members.
Her greatest love was her family. She was our biggest cheerleader, always seeing the best in everyone. Her greatest desire is that her children and grandchildren follow her Grandpa Jardine’s request to “Love one another; and hang together.”
The legacy she leaves is unconditional, Christlike love. We can imagine her kneeling at the Savior’s feet and saying, “I’ve done what you’ve asked. I’ve loved everyone.”
As a family we would like to thank our father Don, her caregivers at Valeo Hospice, and her dear friends and neighbors who all took part in loving her as her health declined.
She was preceded in death by her parents and sister Marjorie Bench Sontagg. She is survived by her brother, Dr. Clyde Bench, and her children, Kathy Ensign England, Stephen Ensign (Colleen), Karen Conley (Jeff), Margie Marsden (Tim), Richard Ensign (Margaret), and Suzie Bean (Steve) as well as 32 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren.
A private family funeral service will be held at 11:00am on Saturday, May 30, 2020 at the East Millcreek 11th Ward, 2702 East Evergreen Ave. Interment to follow at the Salt Lake City Cemetery at 1:00 pm. Online memories and tributes can be shared with the family at www.HolbrookMortuary.com
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