Obituaries for the week of Dec. 31, 2020

Published on: December 31, 2020

Roger Benning

Roger ‘Rod’ LaDell Benning passed away in the early morning of December 27, 2020, in Houston, Texas. He was born in Miller, South Dakota, on September 2, 1925, the middle of five children, to Walter and Lois Benning. After high school, Rod enlisted in the Navy and was proud to serve on the battleship USS West Virginia in World War II. In 1947, he married Orvene ‘Dee’ Deardoff. They had many happy years together until her death in 1995. After retiring from a career in the electronics business, in 1998, Rod moved from Topeka, Kansas, to Sun City Center, Fla.

An avid golfer with four hole-in-ones and winning the club championship to his credit, Rod made many friends on the courses behind the gate at Kings Point. The companionship of friends and neighbors filled his life with joy while in Sun City. In 2018, Rod moved to Houston to be near his daughter.

Preceded in death by his parents and siblings: Quentin Benning, Marvin Benning, Marilyn Lane and Gene Benning, Rod is survived by his daughter, Connie Benning Guinn, and her husband, Mat Guinn, of Bellaire, Texas.

Final arrangements are handled by South Park Funeral Home in Pearland, Texas. Rod will be cremated and buried in Topeka, Kansas.

Memorial contributions may be made to Dr. Seth Lerner, Bladder Cancer Research at


James M. Berrien

Deacon James Matthew Berrien of Wimauma, Florida, 100-year-old WWII Navy Veteran passes away. The family and the Wimauma community will celebrate his legacy on Dec. 30 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Mount Moriah M.B. Church, 5908 Vel Street, Wimauma, Florida 33598.

Please follow the CDC guidelines and masks are required for the viewing/visitation service. The funeral service for the family will be held Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, at 11 a.m.

“It’s incredible that we lost such a warrior,” says granddaughter Jackie. “Mind you, he lived a good life a hundred years old, and being able to do what we did for him for his birthday, it made me and the family so proud, that we were able to celebrate his milestone birthday with our beloved Navy Veteran like that.” He was so excited that everyone came out and celebrated with him.

He said it was the most beautiful thing he saw in his life. The veteran celebrated his 100th birthday in September 2020 with an in-car parade-style drive by from family, friends, the community, Manatee Buffalo Soldiers and the Hillsborough County Sheriff and Fire departments.

In memory of our beloved grandfather from the grandchildren…

Our grandfather will be deeply missed among each of us and especially his grandchildren. I can say proudly that each of us will cherish the special relationships we had with our grandfather a/k/a Mayor Berrien. Our grandfather’s happy demeanor made him a wonderful person to know. We will miss his perspective and his dry/rough jokes. We will also miss the surprising depth and scope of his knowledge and the love he expressed for our Lord and Savior Jesus. We will miss the warmth he extended to everyone he met.

We will all miss our grandfather dearly. But we will treasure his memory forever.

Love, His Grandchildren


Kelly Lynn Butler

Kelly Lynn Butler passed away on Nov. 24, 2020, at the Sun City Hospice House in Sun City Center. He was born on Dec. 22, 1959, in Pocatello, Idaho, to Hank Butler and Mary Ann Parker, who passed on March 21, 2020. Kelly had spent his life in Ruskin since the age of one.

Kelly is survived by his son Justin; his significant other, Kathy Morgan; his father, Hank Butler of Crystal River; three brothers: Mike Butler of Lakeland, Todd Parker of Georgia, Tommy Parker of Tennessee; a sister, Missy Diehl of Ruskin; and his beloved dog, Flossy Mae.

Service will be held on Jan. 11, 2021, at 11 a.m. at the outdoor baptismal at Wellspring Community Church, 705 9th Street SE, Ruskin, FL 33570.


Thomas Eicher

Thomas Eicher passed away on Dec. 14 in Sun City Center at the age of 95. He is survived by children, Scott (Lisa) of Troy, Michigan; and Jill (Ronald Tanner) of Reisterstown, Maryland. Tom is also survived by two grandsons, Matthew and David Eicher. Additionally, he is survived by seven stepchildren, several step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as nieces, nephews and many dear friends. Tom was predeceased by two wives, Pauline Weis and Dorothy Soldano; parents, Philip and Celia (Rauf); and brother, Howard Eicher.

Born in 1925 as a fraternal twin, he grew up in Cincinnati. Tom was stationed in the Pacific during World War II as a paratrooper. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1950. His first job was sports publicity director at his alma mater, and he went on to a career in automotive advertising and retired in 1986. Tom lived much of his life in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan, and relocated to Sun City Center in 2006.

An extrovert, he made friends easily throughout his life. Tom’s Catholic faith was important to him. He was also an ardent fan of sports, movies, wine and dining out in restaurants. Due to COVID-19, arrangements will be held at a date to be determined in 2021.


Winafred Simmons Gardner

Winafred Simmons Gardner, 96, of Ruskin passed away on Dec. 24, 2020, at LifePath Hospice House in Ruskin.

Born on the Simmons Ranch, she was a life-long resident and a member of a pioneer family in southern Hillsborough County.

Winafred was preceded in death by parents, George and Artie Simmons; brothers, Royce and Ellsworth; sisters, Kathryn and Wilhelmina; her loving husband of 59 years, Guy Fred Gardner; and daughter, Judy Ness. She is survived by her daughter, Lynn Elsberry (Terry); granddaughters: Erin Elsberry, Alison Elsberry, Lisa Apen (Eric); great grandson, Cole Apen; and numerous nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to Southeastern Guide Dog, 4210 77th Street East, Palmetto, FL 34221 or LifePath Hospice House, 3723 Upper Creek Drive, Ruskin, FL 33573. There are no services planned at this time.


Alton D. Marcum

Alton Duane Marcum was born in Fairfield, Ohio, to Stella and Glyndon Marcum. He worked for Mosler Safe Co. for many years. Later in his career he worked for The Butler Co. Prosecutors Office until his retirement in 2010.

He moved to Sun City Center, Florida in 2011 to be in warmer weather and be closer to family.

He volunteered at the Sun City Center Emergency Squad. He enjoyed family, friends and sports.

He leaves behind daughter, Teresa Clement; son, Gary Marcum; son, Michael and wife Mickey; grandson Ryan Marcum; and great-grandson, Adrian Marcum; along with many cousins and friends.

He will be greatly missed. In memory of Duane, please donate to your local food bank.


Frank Schopper

Frank Schopper, 84, beloved husband of the late Patricia (nee Shepherd); loving father of Rick (Ginny), Ray (Maryellen) and Cheryl Schopper Riley; loving grandfather of eight; cherished great-grandfather of eight.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the National Kidney Foundation.