July 31, 1924-Aug. 9, 2015
CASPER, Wyo. – Ann Benich Rosenberger was the finest woman that ever lived. She was a down-to-earth woman, without a pretentious bone in her body, yet possessed of a fine intelligence, great taste and a wise soul. Everyone liked Annie – she was a man’s woman and a woman’s woman. She treated everyone with great class and discernment, always gracious and polite, reliable to a fault, meek and tremendously strong at the same time.
Born in Butte in 1924, her parents, John and Rozi Krznarich Benich were immigrants from Brinje, a small village in the mountains of Croatia. John supported the family by working in the mines that made Butte “The Richest Hill On Earth” and his wife Rozi made lace, took in boarders and did anything possible to make ends meet. Ann was the second of three daughters, her sister Mary, born first but dying at the age of 2. Another sister came after Ann, also named Mary and the Benich girls, Annie and Mary, lived a life In Butte that was tough, exciting and full of hope. Their father John, plagued by ill health from the mining work that he had done in his younger years, succumbed and died at the age of 45, leaving a widow who did not speak or write English and two little girls. Annie did not learn English until she started kindergarten, but that was typical in a town full of immigrant enclaves and Annie taught herself to speak, read and write perfect English, always.
After graduating from Butte High in 1942, she went to work as a secretary in the insurance business and in 1946, was introduced on a blind date to Tom Rosenberger, a student at the Montana School of Mines and a veteran of World War II, Air Force. Something clicked and on April 17, 1947, they married and stayed married for 58 years, a perfect match for each other, supporting, loving, arguing and sticking together, responsible parents and providers to six children, John Vernon, Judith Ann, Joanne, Jerri Ellen, Thomas Edward Junior and Robert Wayne.
After graduating from the School of Mines with a degree in Petroleum Engineering, Tom was hired by Fred Goodstein and the family lived throughout the Rocky Mountain region, wherever there were oil and gas wells. Tom started his own business, Northern Petroleum Engineering in 1960, a successful venture that depended entirely upon Annie’s full partnership. Tom always said that she was “the brains of the outfit” – secretary, book keeper, receptionist and sometimes helping hand out in the field.
Annie helped everyone, all the time. She lived to make a good life for her husband and kids. At Southridge School, she volunteered in the library, the nurse’s office, the cafeteria and was the best room mother ever. Whenever Annie was in charge of the festivities for a class party, everyone knew that a good time was going to be had by all. She was a Den Mother for her sons’ Cub Scout dens and Den No. 1 was always the best den in pack 212. She would never be so pretentious as to call herself an artist, but she lived her life in constant creativity, cooking, sewing, crocheting, gardening, making the most up-to-date clothes for her sister and herself when they were too poor to buy clothes in the store and continuing to make clothing for her kids, just because she like doing it.
Her daughter Jerri Ellen was born with birth defects that shortened her life to the age of five, but Annie loved her and took care of her with total dedication. She displayed the same ferocious dedication in 1997 when her daughter Joanne was felled by a stroke at the age of 45 – Annie was at her side, day and night, for months on end, never letting go of her hand and helping her out of this life the same way that she had let her in. She always prized the education of her children, supported their endeavors and could always be relied upon.
She had an inquisitive mind, reading constantly, mostly mysteries, doing crossword puzzles, watching Lawrence Welk, right up to her last night on earth, supporting the Democratic Party, a life-long liberal without a prejudiced bone in her body. She and her husband were both, kind, loyal, trustworthy, honest people, standards of excellence in manners and generosity.
They retired to their home on Flathead Lake and spent decades tending their orchard, entertaining family and friends and loving just being together, no conversation necessary, they knew each other that well. Annie had an effect upon everyone she met, even her doctors, nurses, therapists and aides in the last few months of her sudden and unexpected illness – people adored her, they recognized that she was a decent, true, funny, smart individual with a keen sense of being an individual, never content to just follow the crowd.
In 1969, she took up Transcendental Meditation, to find her peace and was disciplined to the practice, an uncommon act for women of her time. She always sought self-improvement, took care of her health and knew everything about the body and medicine, rarely complained and greeted her troubles with a deep strength and inner wisdom.
She was a tough fighter, right up to the end, but after months of chronic pain and a never-ending onslaught of physical maladies, she asked to be let go and went into her dying with sureness and grace. We should all go so well.
She is missed forever by her family and friends. She was preceded in death by her husband Tom and sister Mary as well as her daughters, Joanne and Jerri Ellen. She leaves behind her sons, Joh Rosenberger and Tom Rosenberger; daughter Judith Christeson and son-in-law Ben Brown, of Casper, Wyoming, and her son Bob Rosenberger and his wife Kay Rosenberger of Wellington, Colorado. She also leaves behind her grandson Deva Jai Rosenberger, his wife Laura and great-granddaughters, Alana and Mia, as well as her devoted niece, Roxanne Stillwagon of Butte.
She leaves behind a life well lived, unlike any other life and notable for its integrity and good deeds. No public services are planned. Donations may be made in Ann’s name to Central Wyoming Hospice.