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Paul Carlton Bender
Colonel, United States Army
 Pennsylvania State Flag
From a press report: Saturday, August 18, 2001

LAKEWOOD, Pierce County, Washington Paul Bender, chief of staff to the late Governor Dixy Lee Ray and a Pierce County philanthropist, has died. He was 82.

The cause was complications from surgery for colon cancer, said his wife, Connie Bender. He died Monday at a nursing home in Lakewood.

A Pennsylvania native, Mr. Bender met Ray when the two worked at the federal Atomic Energy Commission in Washington, D.C., he as secretary of the Commission and she as chairwoman. When Ray became governor of  Washington 24 years ago, Mr. Bender and his family moved out West.

He ran the Democratic governor's administration from 1977 to 1981. Often, Mr. Bender tried to persuade the unconventional governor to act in a more traditional manner, his wife said.

"She was not the easiest person in the world to get along with, and neither was he at times. But we became friends. We all were friends," Connie Bender told The News-Tribune of Tacoma on Thursday.

Mr. Bender left politics when Ray left the governor's mansion. But he and his wife stayed in Lakewood, preferring the climate and the lack of congestion there to the nation's capital.

"We always used to say (to Ray), 'Thank goodness you wanted him so we came out and discovered this part of the country,' " Connie Bender said.

Mr. Bender became the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation's executive director in 1981. In his six years at the foundation, it grew from a nearly dormant charity to a major source of grants, said Margy McGroarty, president of the foundation.

"He was just an organizational genius," McGroarty said.

Mr. Bender retired from the foundation in 1987 and set up Lakewold Gardens, a 10-acre estate and public garden in Lakewood. A lover of animals, basset hounds especially, he served as president of The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County from 1999 until this year.

A memorial service is scheduled at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Lakewold Gardens, 12317 Gravelly Lake Drive S.W.

Funeral services are planned Sept. 13 at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Mr. Bender served in the Army for 24 years, rising to the rank of Colonel before retiring from active duty in 1965.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his three daughters from his first marriage and a stepdaughter and stepson.

PC Bender Gravesite PHOTO
  Photo Courtesy of Russell C. Jacobs, August 2006


Posted: 31 March 2002  Updated: 4 April 2004  Updated: 18 September 2005 Updated: 19 August 2006