Ruth Elaine Bennett Teem, 87, a resident of Gastonia. N.C. for the past 67 years, departed this life on Wednesday, June 6, 2012, at Peak Resources-Gastonia at Gastonia, Gaston County, N.C., after a period of declining health.
Mrs. Teem was born July 27, 1924, at Elkins, Randolph County, the only daughter of the late Omer Bennett and the late Bertha Viola Horting Bennett of Elkins.
She was the widow of the late Paul Lloyd Teem Sr. of Gastonia, N.C.
Her paternal grandparents were prominent Randolph County cattle dealer, the late Martin Van Buren Bennett and the late Florence Jeanette Hedrick Bennett Woods. She was the only granddaughter of the late Henry Moss Mariani, real estate broker, and the late Allie Horton Oyler Cavender, both of Charleston.
Mrs. Teem grew up in the Poe Run community of Randolph County, was educated in the public schools of Randolph County and graduated from Elkins High School. She was a member of the Alderson-Broaddus College Alumni Association, Philippi. She earned a Diploma in Practical Nursing at the Lincoln Institute of Practical Nursing at Chicago, Ill., where her husband was stationed in the United States Navy. She also attended Gaston College at Dallas, N.C., and the former Sacred Heart College at Belmont, N.C.
During World War II, Mrs. Teem met and married Paul Lloyd Teem, who preceded her in death on April 17, 1974.
She was also preceded in death by her parents and her two brothers, Charles Homer Bennett on Nov. 3, 1983, and Colonel Curtis Lee Bennett on June 12, 2010. Mrs. Teem was the last surviving member of her immediate family.
A homemaker devoted to her family, Mrs. Teem was also a genealogical researcher who contributed to the study and preservation of the history, culture, genealogy and heritage of her native state, West Virginia, and was recognized by two governors of West Virginia for her efforts in historic preservation. She was awarded West Virginia's highest honor bestowed on a West Virginian, the Order of the Thirty-fifth Star, in 2004, although she had lived in North Carolina for six decades. She researched, documented and successfully established official recognition by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution of the military and patriotic service of previously unknown patriots by researching and documenting five Revolutionary War ancestor records with the DAR for her patriot ancestors from that part of Virginia that is now West Virginia. She was instrumental in locating, documenting and marking the graves of several of her West Virginia ancestors and in assisting others in lineage research. Throughout her life, she encouraged education, historic preservation, patriotism and responsible citizenship.
Mrs. Teem was a long-time member of seven hereditary and lineage societies: She was a 25-year member of the Major William Chronicle Chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) at Gastonia, N.C., and served as chapter chairman of several NSDAR Committees. Her two daughters, her only granddaughter and a great-granddaughter have followed her into membership in her NSDAR chapter. She was a charter member of the Private Vincent Key Chapter No. 373 of the National Society of the United States Daughters of 1812 at Gastonia and served as chapter registrar of her 1812 chapter from 1995 to 1999.
By right of descent from two Virginia Confederate soldiers from the Pendleton County Bennett family, whose Confederate service she documented, Mrs. Teem became a charter member of the Gastonia Chapter No. 955 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy at Gastonia, when it was re-instituted. She adopted the motto of this heritage society, "Love, Live, Pray, Think, Dare," as her personal pledge phrase to summarize the intention by which she lived her life. Mrs. Teem was a charter member and life member of the National Order of the Blue and Gray by descent from her paternal grandfather, Martin Van Buren Bennett, a native of Pendleton County and a Civil War veteran who had Confederate, Federal and West Virginia State military service during the Civil War era.
Mrs. Teem was a founding member of the Catawba Valley Chapter of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of the Seventeenth Century at Gastonia by descent from William and Martha Goff, Anglican planters who first arrived in New Kent County, Va., in 1635, and whose descendants later settled in the Charleston, Kanawha County, region of present-day West Virginia during its pioneer days in the 19th century. Mrs. Teem was a member of the North Carolina Society of the National Society of the Dames of the Court of Honor, the North Carolina Branch of the National Society of the Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims, and the Gaston County, N.C., Historical Society.
Mrs. Teem was a 38-year member of the Lorraine Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star and the Judean Shrine No. 13 of the Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem, both being organizations sponsored by the Freemasons, with which her husband and son were affiliated. She was commissioned to eight consecutive terms as a North Carolina Notary Public. She was a long-time faithful communicant of Saint Mark's Episcopal Church at Gastonia and, when her health permitted, was frequently present at its 8 a.m. Rite I Holy Eucharist.
The governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky commissioned her as a Kentucky Colonel in the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels in 1995. The governor of West Virginia named her an Honorary Mountaineer in 1999 and a later governor of West Virginia awarded her the prestigious Order of the Thirty-fifth Star in 2004 in recognition of her work to preserve history and genealogy and her contributions of original historical research to several research and preservation efforts in that state, including the West Virginia Veterans Memorial Commission and its West Virginia Veterans Memorial in Charleston. Despite all of her attainments and honors, she believed that her most enduring accomplishments were as a mother.
Surviving are her son, Paul Lloyd Teem Jr. of the home; and two daughters, Paula Lynn Teem Boys Levi and her husband, Cleo Oliver Levi, of Clover, S.C., and Janice Ruth Teem DiCicco, and her husband, Thomas Minotti DiCicco Sr., of Westwood, Mass.; four grandchildren, Ernest Morley Boys III, and his wife, Karen Stuertz Boys, of Libertyville, Ill., John Edward Boys of Vinita, Okla., Dr. Thomas Minotti DiCicco Jr., and his wife, Andrea LaForme DiCicco, of Newton, Mass., and Miss Elisabeth Ruth DiCicco of New York City; and five great-grandchildren, Miss Rebecca Carrol Lynn Boys Brenon of Gardner-Webb University at Boiling Springs, N.C., Miss Sarah Elizabeth Boys of Vinita, Okla., Miss Ashley Megan Boys of the University of Missouri at Columbia, N.C., Master William Emerson Boys and Miss Emma Diane Boys of Libertyville, Ill. Also surviving are a number of nieces and nephews.
Visitation was conducted Sunday at McLean Funeral Directors at 700 S. New Hope Road, Gastonia, N.C. 28054-4046. Funeral services for Mrs. Teem will be conducted at 10 a.m. today at Saint Mark's Episcopal Church at 258 W. Franklin Boulevard, Gastonia, N.C. 28052-4108, with the Rev. Gregory Edward McIntyre, assistant rector, officiating. Interment will be made immediately following the funeral service in Gaston Memorial Park Cemetery at 1200 S. New Hope Road, Gastonia, NC 28054-5834, with full Eastern Star rites to be accorded at the graveside by Lorraine Chapter No. 169 OES.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the care of McLean Funeral Directors. Memorials may be made to the Endowment Fund at Saint Mark's Episcopal Church, 258 W. Franklin Boulevard, Gastonia, NC 28052-4108, in memory of Ruth Elaine Bennett Teem. Online expressions of sympathy and condolences may be made to the Teem family at www.mcleanfuneral.com. McLean Funeral Directors of Gastonia is serving the Teem Family.