Joan Mary Benusa
March 15, 2023
Joan Mary Benusa, 90, of Manhattan, MT, passed away March 7, 2023, at Parkhaven Retirement Community, where she had been a resident for the past 6 years.
Joan was born to John Egnatius and Mary (Filip) Witucki at home in Bowlus, MN, on February 20th, 1933, during a severe Minnesota blizzard.
Joan grew up in Bowlus, MN, and attended school at a one room country schoolhouse from 1st through 8th grade. As the only student from 5th to 8th grade, she found herself helping in the younger grades, which developed into a passion for teaching at an early age and continued throughout her lifetime. She attended the all-girls St. Francis Catholic High School in Little Falls, MN, graduating in 1950. After graduation, Joan attended one year of teacher's training and for the next 5 years she taught in several rural country schools, including the country school she attended. For the next few years, she taught in Circle Pines, MN. but sadly, in November of 1957, her mother passed away from a brain aneurysm. Joan then returned to Bowlus, MN, to help care for her father and was able to teach for one year at Rice, MN.
In 1957, her future husband, Reynold Benusa, returned home from his military service in Germany. Rey and Joan were married on July 8, 1959, at St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church in Bowlus. In the following years, Rey obtained his pharmacy degree from NDSU in Fargo, where Jeff and Lisa were born. A move to Danville, IL, where Ann and Robert were born was soon followed by a return move to Little Falls, MN. During those years Joan was busy with the 4 kids but also managed to obtain her bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from St. Cloud College in 1972.
In 1976, the family decided to move to Montana, after they fell in love with the Gallatin Valley during a summer trip. Their Montana years found them owning Manhattan Drug & Pharmacy, while Joan taught at Manhattan Elementary School. In 1992, Rey & Joan moved just down the road to Three Forks, MT, where they opened the Three Forks Pharmacy & Gift Shop until they retired and closed the business in 2006. Their Polish heritage and love of Polka music and dancing added to their enjoyment of their working and retirement years.
Joan has always been very active in the Catholic Church, serving in different ministries throughout the years. She was a loving and devoted grandmother. Her grandchildren were truly her pride and joy.
A special thanks and hugs to the staff of Parkhaven for all of their love and support over the past years.
Joan is survived by her four children: Father Jeffrey Benusa of Thompson Falls, MT, Lisa (Tim) Dyksterhouse of Churchill, MT, Ann (Dan) Heisler of Manhattan, MT, and Robert (Denise) Benusa of Singapore. She is also survived by seven grandchildren: Trent (Katie) Dyksterhouse, Kayla (Trevor) Dalin, Kendal (Jessica) Dyksterhouse, Kieran Cowan, Tara (Austin) Zenner, Tim Cowan, Quinn Benusa; eight great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. Joan is also survived by her sister Alice Piotrowski; brothers-in-law, and wives: David (Roberta) Benusa, Arnold "Punky" (Margie) Benusa; sisters-in-law: Renée Benusa, Bev (Tim) Riesner, and Genny Benusa.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband Reynold; siblings Mildred, Albert, Edward, Gerard, Paul; and brother-in-law Roger Benusa.
Viewing will be held at K & L Mortuary of Three Forks, MT, on Wednesday, March 15th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday, March 16th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitation will be at Holy Family Catholic Church on March 16th at 4 p.m. followed by the Vigil service at 5 p.m. The funeral Mass will be held at 12 pm, on March 17, 2023, at Holy Family Catholic Church in Three Forks with Father Jeff Benusa, and Father Eric Gilbaugh celebrating the Mass. A reception will follow in the church basement. Burial will be held at 3 p.m. at Meadowview Cemetery south of Manhattan.
Memorials can be made to: https://gallatinvalleyrighttolife.com/